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Response by Reed Administration to Bill Torpy Column

Post Date:08/02/2016 5:00 PM
Mayor Kasim Reed press release header

 Mayor’s Office of Communications
55 Trinity Avenue, Suite 2500 • Atlanta, Georgia 30303

Anne Torres, Director
404-330-6423, office
404-904-2618, cell
amtorres@atlantaga.gov

Jenna Garland, Press Secretary
404-330-6612, office
404-357-5579, cell
jgarland@atlantaga.gov

Thế giới cáFOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: August 2, 2016

News Release

Response by Reed Administration to Bill Torpy Column

Press Secretary Jenna Garland responds to August 1 column on Peachtree-Pine Shelter

ATLANTA – Residents have long called for transparency in the matter of the Peachtree-Pine Shelter and Mayor Kasim Reed has been crystal clear: The City does not support Peachtree-Pine and plans to replace it with something far better for its occupants and for our communities.

The City of Atlanta takes the challenge of homelessness very seriously and we have positive, hopeful results to show for our efforts.

The Regional Commission on Homelessness recently announced that we have reduced homelessness in Atlanta by 50 percent.

In any conversation, that kind of performance matters. But that critical piece of information was left out of an August 1 column in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution by a writer trying to portray the City as callous and hardhearted when it comes to homeless individuals.

The opposite is true. For example, under Mayor Reed’s leadership, the City of Atlanta signed on to President Obama’s White House Mayor’s Challenge to End Veterans Homelessness in 2012. As part of a national campaign with 14 cities, Atlanta exceeded the goal of re-housing 100 chronically homeless veterans in 100 days. We were the first city in the nation to achieve that goal.

Since 2013, homelessness for veterans has dropped by 61 percent. In the last eighteen months, we have housed more than 1,200 veterans. The City of Atlanta, in partnership with the VA and homeless providers, plans to place all remaining homeless veterans in housing -- whether permanent or in transitional-to-permanent -- by Veterans Day 2016. That will give the City of Atlanta “functional zero” homelessness for veterans of our armed forces.

Mayor Reed has been honored to meet with previously homeless vets and hear their stories firsthand. The City takes great pride in knowing how these individuals’ lives were changed by our work in partnership with groups such as the United Way, the Atlanta Mission and many more.

By helping American veterans, we have also gained valuable experience in assisting the general homeless population.

Just three blocks from the Peachtree-Pine Shelter, the Commons at Imperial Hotel is providing the kind of wraparound services that homeless people need to get back on their feet. In addition to clean rooms and a healthy living environment, this award-winning facility offers an employment resource center, drug counseling and health services. This important project would not have been completed without the support of Mayor Reed, and now, the Commons at Imperial Hotel is 100 percent occupied and serves as a model for others we want to open around the city.

In the coming months, the City will pursue a Homeless Opportunity Bond to raise the funds to construct smaller shelters around the City complete with wraparound services, in the model of the Commons. Mayor Reed believes that building small shelters to serve 30-90 individuals each, spread throughout the city, is a far better approach than a warehouse of 400-500 people living in conditions which are unquestionably inadequate.

Homelessness is a complex and serious issue in Atlanta and around the country, but by relocating individuals and families to strategically located facilities empowered by transition-oriented programs, we can take a big step toward permanently eliminating chronic homelessness.

In today’s world, it’s not enough to house impoverished, sick and, in some cases, unstable individuals in unhealthy conditions and without offering them a clear path out of that existence. We have to do more, and resources such as the Commons at Imperial Hotel show us that it can be done with compassion and excellence.

At a public event two weeks ago, Mayor Reed responded to a question from a resident living near the shelter about his plans to close the Peachtree-Pine facility and build a police and fire station on that site, first announced in August of last year. He told the audience that the job of big-city mayors changed forever with the terrorist attack on Friday, November 13, 2015 in Paris, France. He explained how the mayors of all major cities now receive security briefings on the risk of terrorism. The ISIS group is particularly frightening because it issues dozens of threats each day, and operates by giving ideas and instructions to unstable individuals to act on their own – not as part of a network.

By building a best-in-class police headquarters in Midtown, the Atlanta Police Department will establish SWAT-response capabilities in the city’s most central location, enabling APD to respond to a dangerous situation within 17 minutes or less. In the event of a hostage situation or an attack, our ability to respond rapidly may very well reduce the number of lives lost. The November attacks in Paris made it clear that every minute counts.

Simply stated, Mayor Reed is not using ISIS as a “tactic,” as the AJC headline suggested, but is responding to a genuine need brought on by the current threat environment.

Preparing against the threat of terrorism is something the City of Atlanta takes as seriously as helping those struggling with homelessness, or with living in an unhealthy, unsanitary and unsupportive shelter environment. We want better for our city and all its residents. And so should you.

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For more information about the City of Atlanta, please visit http://everafterbox.com or watch City Channel 26. Follow the City of Atlanta on Facebook and Twitter . Follow Mayor Reed on Facebook and Twitter

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