Atlanta officials and community leaders celebrate city's first rapid housing facility

(from left to right) Chief Policy Officer and Senior Advisor to the Mayor Courtney English, Atlanta City Councilmember Jason Dozier, Atlantica Properties co-founder Darion Dunn, Atlanta Mayor Andre Dickens and CEO of Partners for HOME, Cathryn Vassell, attend a ribbon cutting ceremony on Jan. 26, 2023 for The Melody, Atlanta's first rapid housing facility. (Julien Virgin/WABE)

On Jan. 26, ribbons were cut on Atlanta’s first rapid housing community for a selected group of downtown residents struggling with homelessness and poverty.

The Melody is a 40-unit access-controlled residential facility built from shipping containers – each equipped with a bed, bathroom and kitchenette. Additional service providers located at the building will connect residents with wraparound resources, including a path toward affordable housing.

The housing project, which took four months to construct at under $125,000, is dedicated to Melody Bloodworth, a Georgia woman who recently died after struggling with addiction, mental health and chronic homelessness.

Friday saw a variety of community leaders and city officials brought together to celebrate the facility’s operation in a ribbon-cutting ceremony attended by the press and neighborhood residents.

“This is the fastest, fully permanent multifamily project in the city’s history,” said Darion Dunn, a managing partner and co-founder of Atlantica Properties, the Melody’s developers.

As tears flowed from his eyes, Dunn called the project a milestone in ending homelessness in Atlanta.

“The Melody is a clear demonstration of what can be achieved when the barriers around housing production are dismantled, and when the stigmas around homelessness are challenged.”

So far, 22 residents have applied and have been approved to move into the facility on Feb. 1 – including Wanda Sutton, an Atlanta resident who has been experiencing homelessness for the past three years.

Sutton, who previously spoke to WABE in 2023 on the difficulties of finding bathing resources, says that having her own shower in her new unit is one of many reliefs to come from the housing village.

“I know that it’ll take a lot of stress off of me,” said Sutton. “I don’t have to rush and do this and rush to do that, and … that’s just great.”

Also present at the ceremony was Mayor Andre Dickens, who recently signed an executive order that provides $4.6 million to help Atlanta’s unhoused.

Dickens believes that the opening of The Melody is only the beginning of his initiative. The mayor’s administration aims to produce 500 additional units of rapid housing on public lands by the end of 2025.

Atlanta Mayor Andre Dickens speaks at the opening ceremony of The Melody, Atlanta’s first rapid housing community, on Friday, Jan. 26, 2023. (Julien Virgin/WABE)