Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed announced Monday that the city has effectively ended homelessness among veterans in the city.
Reed received a letter of congratulations and confirmation from the United States Interagency Council on Homelessness, Department of Housing and Urban Development, and Department of Veterans Affairs on Oct. 27.
The letter stated the agencies felt confident the city could quickly support homeless veterans in the future as well.
There are still about 100 homeless veterans, but all of them have been offered permanent housing, according to the city of Atlanta.
“We provided shelter for someone and they went across the street and slept outside, because they are so accustomed to being outdoors,” Reed said. “This is really, really hard work.”
The city of Atlanta has been working to end chronic homelessness among veterans since 2012.
The Atlanta City Council voted to authorize Invest Atlanta to issue a $26 million Homeless Opportunity Bond to be matched by a $25 million gift from the United Way of Greater Atlanta. The Atlanta City Council also authorized the adoption of a five-year strategic plan to permanently house all homeless individuals in the city.
Reed said the city will use part of the $50 million bond to build smaller shelters around the city to house the city’s larger homeless population.
The Atlanta Continuum-of-Care, “a local collaborative that coordinates housing, services and funding for homeless families and individuals” reported a 61 percent drop in the total number of “chronically homeless” individuals from 2013. A survey conducted by the group in January 2017 found there are about 3,572 homeless individuals in the city.
The city of Atlanta and DeKalb County are the two jurisdictions in the state of Georgia to meet the federal benchmarks for creating an effective end to homelessness among veterans.
Metro Atlanta Veterans
Ed Powers, a veteran of the Vietnam War and executive director of HOPE Atlanta, said his group has helped more than 2,650 veterans find housing in the 16 county metro area since 2012.
Powers said the nearby counties have also been stepping up and “dealing with the problem where it exists rather than making folks come into town for services.”
“In the 24 years that I’ve been doing my job, what we have seen is denial in all of the surrounding counties, and that’s no longer the case,” Powers said. “Gwinnett, Cobb, Douglas, Clayton County, all understand that they have a problem. They may not look like the problems we have downtown. You’re not going to have folks on the street and as visible and so what we’re seeing now is the recognition that families may be sleeping in cars, in the Wal-Mart parking lots, but that doesn’t mean they’re not present.”