As part of an effort to place hundreds of homeless residents in permanent housing by December, Atlanta has launched a registry of the homeless and is calling for as many as 300 volunteers to scour the city and determine the services that are needed.
On the evening of Thursday, Jan. 17, and the morning of Friday, Jan. 18, volunteers supported by professional outreach workers and Atlanta police are scheduled to conduct surveys of people sleeping outdoors and in emergency shelters in the city.
It’s the latest effort to ameliorate homelessness in Atlanta, where debates over aggressive panhandling and the safety of the area around the Peachtree-Pine homeless shelter in downtown Atlanta routinely become enmeshed in controversy.
Data from the surveys will be used to create the first by-name registry of homeless people in Atlanta, with information about their health problems and barriers to getting and keeping permanent housing.
The registry is designed to measure health vulnerability, as well as age and length of time spent on the streets. That data will be used to prioritize housing assistance for chronically homeless people and families with the highest risk of dying on the streets, organizers said.
Homeless residents who participate will be given gift cards for food. If they agree to it, volunteers will take photos to help teams identify the homeless as they move around the city.
“It’s putting a name to a face and understanding the needs of the people,” said Susan Lampley, project officer in Mayor Kasim Reed’s innovation delivery team. “It is a large effort, because there are a lot of people on the street. We have a broad range of people on the street, who are homeless for various reasons. This helps us understand who’s out there and what our needs are, so we can plan our resources appropriately.”
At last count, there were nearly 5,000 people sleeping in emergency night shelters and outdoor locations in Atlanta. Reed and private partners hope the registry will help the city place 800 people in permanent housing by December. That number includes 200 chronically homeless people, 400 homeless veterans, and 200 occasionally homeless individuals.
The federal government defines the chronically homeless as people who have been homeless for more than one year or who have experienced homelessness four or more times in three years.
Read more: AJC