City of Atlanta reports nearly 40% drop in homelessness
Atlanta is reporting a nearly 40% drop in homelessness since the pandemic began.
The city released the findings today, as part of the results from this past winter’s census of people living outside and in shelters.
Atlanta’s director of homelessness strategy, Catherine Vassell, attributed the decline to a program that began shortly after the COVID-19 outbreak.
Using the surge in federal relief funding, Atlanta’s network of service providers coordinated an effort to house hundreds of residents who were without permanent homes.
Vassell said the data from the latest homeless census, known as a “point-in-time” count, reinforced the idea that prioritizing housing works.
“Homelessness is a housing problem, period,” Vassell said.
The findings pointed to a thousand fewer people experiencing homeless, with reductions both in those staying on the street and those in temporary housing. On the night of the count, close to 50% of shelter beds were empty.
Even with the falling numbers, the point-in-time report showed 2,017 people are still considered homeless in Atlanta.
Mayor Dickens acknowledged that the extent of the issue is also clear to residents who drive or walk by encampments.
At the same time as the city announced the data, Dickens said his office and the state were dedicating an additional $25 million in federal money to continue the housing effort.
“We are doubling down in our commitment to fight homelessness,” Dickens said.
The funding, largely from the American Rescue Plan, will support rental assistance, supportive services and a partnership with Grady to address mental health needs.
To complete the 2022 point-in-time count, two hundred volunteers canvassed the city on Jan. 24.
The most recent data before then dates back to 2020 shortly before the virus outbreak. It showed more than 3,200 people on streets and in shelters.