Candidate Questions

What will you commit to do to address homelessness?

These answers are offered as a community service from candidates who chose to respond.
They do not represent an endorsement by the Buckhead Coalition.

Mayor Candidates

  • Andre Dickens: There are two main points in addressing homelessness. First is rapid rehousing to ensure that the most pressing need is addressed: a roof over your head. We will work to expand the ability to quickly house those who are experiencing homelessness and then provide comprehensive services to address the other needs: job training, mental health care, etc.

Next, we have to work on addressing the root causes which can lead to more entering homelessness, and that takes on many forms: affordable housing, better job opportunities, transit initiatives. It will take a comprehensive approach to address all of these areas.

  • Sharon Gay: I support the efforts of Partners for Home and the United Way to reduce homelessness in the city. We need to redouble our efforts to move folks from the streets into appropriate programs and ultimately into permanent housing. With the risk of evictions rising as the pandemic funding dries up, this is only becoming more of an urgent problem. There is a role for non-profits, philanthropy, state and federal authorities here; we need to work together.
  • Mark Hammad: This is a top priority of mine and is clearly stated on my platform. I will direct homeless support based on a housing first policy, with full resources and support to help transition them to stable and independent living situations. The resources include health (medical and mental), addiction support, job training, job placement, and social services. I want to set up a framework to strategically attack and address homelessness. This includes eventually working our way up to the at-risk group and hopefully cutting off the pipeline that dumps people into homelessness (the two biggest drivers being job loss/eviction and addiction).
  • Felicia Moore: Here are the immediate actions I will take as your next Mayor to address the growing needs of our unsheltered citizens:

1. Renovate existing city properties to restore hundreds of no-questions-asked shelter beds that were lost and never replaced when we closed derelict facilities, with special emphasis on the needs of women, the elderly, and homeless families.

2. Instruct the Atlanta Housing Authority to work with the regional partners, municipal and county leaders, and our philanthropic community to match federal aid to create a network of shelters, transitional housing, and permanent supportive housing.

3. Strongly advocate for the state and counties to deliver on mental health and HHS responsibilities.

  • Kasim Reed: If I have the privilege of serving as Mayor again, my Administration will develop 12-15 sites for transitional housing that include complete wrap-around services for our transitional and homeless population. These sites will house between 20 and 50 people per site. They will include services for mental health support, job training support technology support and overall wellness.

I will also renew our focus on housing veterans in long-term permanent housing and we will partner with our hospital providers, primarily Grady hospital, because of the costs associated with homeless people on our healthcare system. For example, a single emergency room visit may cost as much as $1,500 and an emergency overnight stay can cost as much as $15,000. As a result, it is in the mutual interest of the City, Fulton County and our healthcare providers to develop a coordinated strategy to help homeless people transition into sustainable housing.

  • Roosevelt Searles: I know you’ve seen the Snicker commercial.. Hunger leads to Anger. Anger leads to theft and theft eventually leads to violent crime. The homeless population consist of laborers, disable, mentally ill and many who are just down on bad luck. If you make $1,200 a month. Any apartment or home that you move in plus 2.5-3.0x the rent, references, bank statements, rental history and good credit. This halves your tenant base and decreases the amount of homes available for many residents. We will build city owned affordable homes. Making them available as soon as Summer 2022 using modular building technology.
  • Richard Wright: My administration will create a program called TIBIS (Transferring Individuals Back Into Society). The program is a 24 month program that is designed to mitigate Atlanta’s growing homelessness issue. My administration will use city owned building to house our homeless population. We will give mental, covid 19 and physical evaluations to all residents. Once tested we can provide the help each person needs. All residents must start and complete a trade/skills program in the 1st 6 Months of the program. The part of the program is 12 months in length. Residents are moved to a different site where they will live. My administration will work with the business community to find jobs for residents. The residents will also learn life skills, how to open a checking account, how to balance a checking account. The 3rd part is 6 months and the residents will be able to purchase a house on city property that some of them help build. My administration’s TIBIS program is dedicated to mitigating our homeless issue.
  • Glenn S. Wrightson: As Mayor, I, Glenn S. Wrightson, would create a major re-cycling center where the homeless could work to sort materials, and possibly have basic subsistence needs met. I would promote mental health interventions to assist when possible.

City Council President Candidates

  • Natalyn Archibong: As Council President I will encourage our council to support the efforts of Partners for Home, the Continuum of Care, the Gateway Center and regional partners who work to address homelessness and rapid rehousing initiatives. The city must continue to participate in the annual Point in Time homelessness count. I am committed to working with Fulton and DeKalb Counties, and our federal and regional partners to identify funds to provide additional resources to address homelessness. I am committed to ensuring the federal funds received for Homeless Opportunity for Person With Aids are disbursed in a more timely and effective manner. In the next term, our city must consider the possibility of offering another bond dedicated to the eradication of homelessness in our city.
  • Courtney English: First, we need to ensure that people who are on the brink of homelessness due to the pandemic can stay in their homes by expanding and streamlining the city’s eviction relief and rapid rehousing efforts. For the past year, I have helped lead an eviction relief fund that has raised $11 million and served over 4,000 families. Next, we should explore another Housing Opportunity Bond that can be used to build low barrier homeless shelters and are staffed to provide the wraparound services needed to help people get back on their feet.
  • Doug Shipman: ​​We need to invest in the LIFT program based on the success during COVID. The city needs to support the purchase of two older hotel properties to be converted to low-threshold shelters with additional services. We also need to expand the work for Partners For Home to be more active in Buckhead to assist unsheltered individuals in leaving the streets. We also need to continue advocating for more state mental health and substance abuse treatment funding and resources to be deployed to address the health issues of many homeless individuals permanently.

City Council Candidates, Post 1 At-Large

  • Michael Julian Bond: I sponsored the $50 million Homeless Opportunity Bond, which is creating 550 units of permanent-supportive housing and co-sponsored the $100 million Homeless Opportunity Bond to ameliorate homelessness. In partnership with Fulton County, health treatment and wrap-around social services are provided to residents.

I also passed legislation authorizing the City and Invest Atlanta to prioritize projects that include affordable housing for the next five years. It is my intent to continue advocating for action under this authorization. The City must fully implement affordable housing initiatives, including the Housing Affordability Action Plan, to create a pathway toward affordable and equitable housing opportunities.

  • Alfred “Shivy” Brooks: Ending mass homelessness must be a legislative priority. I offer pragmatic solutions that take a holistic approach for sustainable solutions. For example, I will craft legislation to authorize the first tiny house villages exclusively for unsheltered women, children, and people of color. These villages will offer community caseworkers to assist residents in obtaining long-term housing, mental and physical healthcare, substance abuse support, and job attainment. Tiny homes are low-cost to build, and can be built in just 3-5 weeks. Our villages will utilize less than 2 acres. We must also address affordability and protect the housing security of lower-income Atlantans.

Many in Buckhead believe that the current proposal to rezone Atlanta threatens the stable single family neighborhoods that make up most of Buckhead, and that even define the community.

  • Brandon Goldberg: The city should explore opportunities to build microhomes on currently unused city property. These homes will provide those currently homeless with a safe place to live and alleviate other issues in our city related to homelessness. Additionally, studies have shown that once a homeless person is given a home, they can devote more of their mental energy to finding and holding a job to then pay their expenses. The Policing Alternatives and Diversion Initiative (PAD) should also be fully funded to provide immediate intervention to those with mental health concerns.
  • Todd Gray: If elected I will work to serve everyone in our City, and that means the houseless. To start we should immediately begin to direct more city services to mental health issues that those living on the streets often face. We can also dedicate public facilities for use so people have clean water to drink and a space to get clean, a resource that has been lacking during the pandemic closures. Finally and most importantly I will work to address the root socio economic causes of homelessness so we can ensure no more Atlantans fall into the cycle.

City Council Candidates, Post 2 At-Large

  • Matt Westmoreland: This month Council is considering legislation that will allocate $3.5 million toward the immediate housing of many in our unsheltered population. Moving forward, it will soon be time for another issuance of Homeless Opportunity Bond (similar to the $25 million bond in 2017 that was matched with $25 million from the philanthropic community). These dollars will help Partners for Home, which manages Atlanta’s continuum of care for homelessness services, continue their outreach in our streets and parks and then guide residents to the services they need and, ideally, to permanent supportive housing.

City Council Candidates, Post 3 At-Large

  • Jacki Labat: As pandemic relief programs and eviction moratoriums end, homelessness will surely rise. I’m committed to helping the homeless population that wants help; however, we have to recognize that some do not. Homeless encampments not only violate city code but are quite often unsanitary and unsafe. I want to build creative transitional housing as a gateway to more permanent, stable housing. We should do a better job of building relationships with Fulton County to provide resources to include mental health, drug and alcohol abuse, navigating the complexities of job applications, job training, life skills, health insurance and more.
  • Jodi Merriday: I am committed to executing the One Atlanta Housing Affordability Plan that calls for the prevention of involuntary displacement, expansion of property tax programs, and targeted outreach to vulnerable communities to increase participation in affordable housing programs.

Further, I am committed to funding a 90-day safety net point of capture in anticipation of escalated displacement as moratoriums are lifted on evictions and foreclosures. I would seek to partner with United Way, the private sector and philanthropist to provide emergency housing and pathways to stability that support employment and keeping children in school with minimal disruptions.

  • Keisha Waites: Our corporate community and tourism industry all have a vested interest in addressing homelessness. Homelessness and housing insecurity makes education, work, medical care and every other part of normal life more difficult and expensive. I support a broad range of approaches to get people into permanent housing and long-term housing. Permanent supportive housing is a proven strategy that provides affordable housing combined with access to wraparound services as a foundation for recovery and stability for individuals lacking housing who face complex medical, mental health, and/or substance use issues that are co-occurring. See Response to #6 for housing strategy.
  • Sherry Williams: We need strong housing first policies. The majority of homeless people aren’t chronically homeless; they just can’t afford a place to live. These people are generally working and can afford rent once they get housed. However, the chronically homeless have different needs. Many need mental health services, which are sorely lacking. Whether it’s through Grady Hospital or City Hall, these services need to be available to those in need. More public bathrooms are a complete common sense solution and should have both the support of people that need them and people affected by people using the bathroom outside.

City Council Candidates, District 6

  • Alex Wan: Through working at Jerusalem House, I gained an appreciation for the need not only to provide stable shelter for those experiencing housing insecurity, but also comprehensive supportive services to address any underlying causes of homelessness (substance abuse, mental health, etc.). The city needs to improve its coordination with our county and state partners who each bring different resources, services, and jurisdiction to the challenge. I stand prepared to facilitate that collaboration. Additionally, I commit to ensuring the tools that the City does manage – housing grant funds, 311 pre-arrest diversion (PAD) responsiveness – are deployed efficiently and effectively.

City Council Candidates, District 9

  • Dustin Hillis: I will work with my colleagues and the mayor to address our homeless issues across the city. I believe an expanded APD Hope Team and a 24/7 Pre-Arrest Diversion Program would make a noted impact. The City also needs to seriously look at establishing a full-service homeless shelter to provide living quarters and services to the homeless, including program that aim to get people into transitional and then permanent housing.