Homelessness rate drops 38% in Atlanta in 2022
Counties open warming shelters ahead of cold snap
ATLANTA, Ga. (Atlanta News First) - As temperatures drop across metro Atlanta, warming centers are filling up to meet the need of those experiencing homelessness.
“We went to the fire station,” said 10-year-old Kenniah Leach, who stayed in a warming center on Monday with her mom in DeKalb County. “I got a lot of sleep,” said Leach.
In Atlanta, officials have activated a warming center at the Old Adamsville Recreation Center.
Multiple housing advocates told Atlanta News First they worry many unhoused will be left without resources with the extended cold snap over the holiday weekend.
On Monday, HUD released its annual homelessness report based on a point-in-time county nationwide.
According to the report, homelessness nationwide remained stable between 2020 and 2022, according to a single night county in January 2022.
HUD found a 0.3% increase in the number of people experiencing homelessness in the two-year span.
In Atlanta, officials said they saw a 38% decrease in their point-in-time count from 2020 to 2022.
Cathryn Vassell, Executive Director for Partners for Home, Atlanta’s primary non-profit addressing homelessness, said they counted just over 2,000 people experiencing homelessness in January 2022.
RELATED: US homeless numbers stay about the same as before the pandemic.
Vassell cautioned that 2023 could see challenges in maintaining this downward trend.
“The reality is without COVID stimulus funds, our system shifts back to limited capacity,” said Vassell.
Many of their housing programs were funded through American Rescue Plan, pandemic-relief funds.
Vassell said the current housing economy is pushing more people into homelessness.
She said over the last 6 months in Atlanta, the average rent has increased by 30%. She said the city’s vacancy rate is hovering between 2 and 3 percent.
“There’s no question that we’re losing housing affordability at a rapid clip and we’re not creating enough affordable housing that we need to keep pace, and so I really think Atlanta is at a dangerous crossroads in that regard,” said Vassell.
“And we really need to as a community invests in affordable housing to ensure that we don’t see increases in the number of people experiencing homelessness in our community,” she said, in an interview with Atlanta News First.
On Monday, ANF crews watched three good Samaritan volunteers handing out bags to those experiencing homelessness in downtown Atlanta.
“Just to bless others, everybody ain’t got it. So, might as well, and it’s the holiday so we’ve got to make everybody hear special,” said Jarrell Rosser.
Rosser said he, along with his brother Jarred Rosser and friend Amayia Daniels, spent roughly $500 of their personal money to fill roughly 40 bags with a blanket and toiletries.
“Angels are always out, that’s what I call them, angels. They bless us,” said Henry Smiley, who received one of the bags.
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