Like many major cities, Atlanta has a serious homelessness problem. It is estimated that Atlanta has a homeless population of at least 10,000 people on any given night with at least 40 percent being women and children. While there are many resources for homeless women and children, the same is not true for the 60 percent homeless male population. One of the few shelters in the city that provides beds for homeless men is the midtown shelter at Peachtree and Pine Streets in midtown operated by the Atlanta Metro Atlanta Task Force for the Homeless. They serve 500-700 men, women and children on a daily basis. The surrounding neighborhood, which is very prime real estate, has always been troubled by serious issues of crime.
Now Mayor Kasim Reed has announced plans to close the facility due to health concerns presented by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). Mayor Reed was informed that the shelter is a breeding ground for tuberculosis not only in Atlanta but amazingly across the nation. Reed stated to the media, “Peachtree and Pine is one of the leading sites for tuberculosis in the nation. They laid out how tuberculosis cases, not in Georgia, but across America, are being traced back to Peachtree and Pine. I’m using today as a moment. It has been tolerated for too long.”
Mayor Reed has stated that the city will build a new 300-400 bed facility with a police and fire station included on the site. However, the mayor has given no timeline, plan, budget or location for such a facility. Reed made this announcement at a luncheon for members of the Commerce Club, an elite Atlanta group of business and civic leaders, many of whom have been calling for the closure of the shelter for years.
The announcement of the intended closure of the shelter has been met by outrage and concern by many homeless advocates and the homeless themselves.