Atlanta’s mayor announces new funding for combatting homelessness

Fixing Atlanta's homelessness issue
Published: Jun. 2, 2022 at 12:35 PM EDT
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ATLANTA, Ga. (CBS46) - Atlanta Mayor Andre Dickens announced Thursday a proposal to invest $6.2 million of the city’s American Rescue Plan funding to go toward combatting homelessness.

“With these new investments backed by this mayor and backed by our state partners, we are now planning to invest over $25 million to house an additional 1,500 households,” said Cathryn Vassell of Partners for HOME.

The new funding is music to the ears of Richard DeShields who found himself homeless in 2015.

“The reason I became homeless is because my wife and son died in a house fire,” said DeShields.

His deep depression cost him his job, and he didn’t care about anything, he said. For years, he slept in the bushes of a city park, emerging during the daytime to look for food.

In 2020, thanks to a city outreach program, he began to turn his life around. Earlier this year, he moved into an apartment of his own.

Even though homelessness is perhaps more visible in recent months because of donations of tents by various charities, city leaders announced that a recent survey showed a 37 percent decrease in the number of people in Atlanta experiencing homelessness.

“While we’ve made significant strides, no one is satisfied when there’s anyone sleeping on the streets,” said Dickens.

DeShields says he’s thrilled knowing the new funding will help others.

“To give them an opportunity to be where I’m at, it’s great,” he said. “It’s what is needed. But like I stress, you also need to make sure that you have support programs.”

He knows from experience that the best programs teach people how to maintain a household and how to be a good worker and a good neighbor so they don’t end up back on the streets.