As most people did today, I put on several layers before venturing out in the 29 degree Atlanta weather. Nice and warm. I warmed up my car, turned on the heat and drove over to the Ben Hill post office to drop off mail.
However, when I entered the door, a peculiar odor was in the air. I discovered there was a homeless man camped out there. He startled me. Seeing the look on my face, he said “M’am, you know it’s real cold outside.” I agreed.. Knowing he needed transportation to the City’s closest warming center over at the Old Adamsville Rec Center on M.L. King,Jr. Drive at DelMar Lane, I called Atlanta Police Department (APD) Zone 4 to ask if they could send an officer or someone to take him over to the warming center. The officer said, ‘of course they would’ and she thanked me for calling.
When the Officer Polencia arrived, he spoke politely to the homeless man who said his name is Dave. Dave said he is an Army veteran who is waiting for his friend who lives a few houses down to get off from work who he stays with overnight. Polencia offered to take Dave to the warming center, but he refused saying he is okay. Polencia told him he could not stay there. Dave assured the officer he was going to leave.
I left and checked five hours later at 9:20pm and not only was Dave still there, but another homeless guy was also.
This is not good! Unfortunately, these are not the only two homeless people in southwest Atlanta. So, I sent an email to Councilman Andre Dickens, NPU-P Chair Reginald Rushin and CBS 46 TV. They all responded within minutes. Yet none of them mentioned transportation to the warming center. With a shortage of APD officers, do we really want them to run a shuttle service?
With no one else to call, I called Zone 4 again. This time I spoke to Sgt. Bowers who said they would send someone over.
So, is Atlanta a city too busy to have a plan in place for transporting its homeless to warming centers when we experience frigid temperatures? This is winter. Weather forecasts are pretty accurate. Frigid temps are always in the forecasts. Where is the plan? Where is the compassion from our city leaders?
Tomorrow there will be an Inauguration for The new Mayor, Keisha Lance Bottoms. This is her district until then. Will her successor, councilwoman-elect Marci Overstreet, and the other city council members (half are new) devise a plan to help our most vulnerable citizens?
Time will tell whether Atlanta will be too busy to devise and implement a plan. Will you hold them accountable??