Although homeless individuals and families all share the common issue of not having a stable place to live, their back stories are incredibly varied and diverse
HOPE Atlanta understands these complexities, and works with the homeless population of the city to meet them where they are, and focus on their individual needs. Their mission of providing a comprehensive approach to address homelessness and provide solutions that promote lifelong stability has been their main priority for more than 30 years, making them the longest-running homeless-focused nonprofit in Atlanta.
In a count taken in January of 2016, Atlanta has approximately 4,000 homeless individuals. 80% of them are considered to be episodically homeless, where housing instability is not typical in their lives. For them, specific events like a job loss, eviction, or missed payments on rent have caused the situation. The remaining 20%, however, are chronically homeless and habitually on the streets, often due to mental illness or substance addition.
“It’s relatively easy for folks like us to get the episodically homeless back on their feet, but for the other portion of the population, that process can take years and years,” Executive Director David Powers said. In fact, most of the organization’s revenue and funding go toward helping that 20%.
While any number is too large, Atlanta’s homeless population has been maintained in comparison to cities like New York, with 73,000 homeless, and LA, with 43,000. Over the last three years, Atlanta has seen a 26% decline in their homeless numbers.
HOPE Atlanta provides a continuum of services and various programs that enable them to assist individuals in their immediate time of need. This includes finding individuals short-term and more permanent housing, and holding twelve offices across six counties.
Last year, HOPE Atlanta placed 1,200 homeless veterans and their families in housing, and 640 individuals with HIV/AIDS. They also work with individuals who are not able to make a stable life in Atlanta, helping them return to a verified support system.
To work with the chronically homeless, Powers said you have to build relationships. “They are not going to come to you,” he said. “You have to go to them. You have to be able to build some kind of relationship. Hopefully after doing that and earning their trust, at some point they will be willing to come in off the streets and begin a process of getting back on track.”
HOPE Atlanta also works with women and their families hoping to escape domestic violence situations. They help find them an immediate safe place to go, and then evaluate whether or not the family is comfortable staying in Atlanta, or should move to be more safe.
HOPE Atlanta is always looking for volunteers and new supporters, and are currently running their 100 Nights of Hope fundraising campaign to raise money and provide critical services in the cold-winter months. Those interested in learning more about HOPE Atlanta and 100 Nights of Hope can visit www.hopeatlanta.org.