24/7 Gateway (2005)
Mayor Franklin Seeking Solutions for Homelessness
Mayor Shirley Franklin took advantage of the opportunity to discuss one of her favorite issues, homelessness, at a recent monthly luncheon "Food for Thought" discussion. The "Food for Thought" began six years ago at North Avenue Presbyterian Church as a gathering place for business and professional women in midtown and downtown Atlanta.
Mayor Franklin engaged the audience with progress on her Blueprint to End Homelessness in Atlanta in Ten Years, including updates on the 24/7 Gateway Center. The Gateway Center is a 24-hour services center that will provide homeless individuals with a safe, indoor place to rest and receive basic and special needs services. The full service center will provide outreach workers and incentives such as showers, lockers and referrals for assistance and case management.
United Way of Metropolitan Atlanta convened a commission and was charged by the mayor with developing strategies to help eliminate homelessness. The Gateway Center is just one of the recommendations that best exemplifies how the civic, business and faith-based communities can unite and have a lasting impact on social and economic conditions. The Gateway Center is "a symbol of what can be accomplished," said Mayor Shirley Franklin, who is "convinced that there are practical and effective ways to tackle [homelessness] head-on."
(Courtesy of Atlanta City Hall Web Site)
24/7 Gateway 2005 Update
A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows, is God in his holy dwelling. God sets the desolate in a homeland, he leads forth the prisoners with singing. Psalm 68:5-6
On Tuesday, May 3rd, CityLights gathered at the construction site of the 24/7 Gateway Center for the Homeless, a city-wide initiative to eradicate homelessness, sponsored by in-kind donations, public and private funds and carried out with the support of several volunteers, ministries, and a powerful partnership between the mayor's office, the United Way and the Atlanta Union Mission.
Our group gathered in the cavernous space intended to serve as the Gateway Center's hospitality and welcome area. Although the area is now just a large room with a concrete floor and construction supplies scattered about, a spot where prisoners once signed in to terms of punishment, it was easy to see the place's potential. Jack Hardin, of the law firm Rogers and Hardin, and the commissioner for the 24/7 Gateway project, described the key idea behind it as a place for homeless people to go or be brought to that has a commitment to address their issues and care for them. He said that because homelessness is a regional problem, he and his taskforce team members, all of whom were tapped by Mayor Shirley Franklin, sought a regional solution. To date, five of Metro Atlanta's surrounding counties are involved in the project, as well as the city of Atlanta.
"Grandiose" is not the usual word that comes to mind when thinking of solutions for the homeless. However, with a space of 110,000 square feet, four floors, a complete renovation of long-abandoned cell blocks, several partnering ministries and non-profit agencies on board to offer their services, and the lofty goal of ending the homeless epidemic for all men, women, children, and runaway teens, few other words appropriately describe the initiative. Vince Smith, the director of the Gateway project, and the community relations manager for the Atlanta Union Mission, described the wealth of resources that will be offered at the Gateway Center for our city's homeless population. In addition to offering the suffering a central place to receive a number of vital services, the 4-story Center will house:
1) A separate entrance for women and children, to protect those who may be escaping an abusive situation and to keep the women and men who visit the Center from potentially difficult situations.
2) Referrals for internal and external homeless services, including housing and jobs.
3) Counseling to promote reunification with family/friends and support community
4) Assistance in accessing mainstream benefits
5) A chapel, provided by private and public funds, will help students from area schools of theology gain urban experience. In addition, a grant from North Avenue Presbyterian Church will provide funding for three on-site chaplains.
6) 30 temporary beds for women and children with lockers and showers.
7) A welcome area with a concierge/intake/diagnoses center to help link visitors to needed services and agencies.
8) Traveler?s Aid staff members on-site to offer emergency aid to travelers and social services to the homeless.
9) A community kitchen run by Project Open Hand, offering temporary residents food service during their stay at the Gateway, as well as a four month long food service training program.
10) A gymnasium.
11) Half-million dollars worth of health care provided by St. Joseph's Mercy Care, offered four days a week, eight hours a day.
12) The third and fourth floors of the Center will be men's residences, and forty-five of the men living there will be U.S. Veterans, as dictated by a generous grant from the U.S. Veteran's Administration.
13) The third floor will also house a pretreatment facility for drug and alcohol addicts with 45 beds.
14) Full time staff person from Covenant House to work with runaway adolescents and 18-21 year old men.
15) 45 assigned emergency beds with a stated goal of the Housing First model
16) 23 beds reserved for referrals from City of Atlanta Community Court, Fulton County Conflict Defenders, Inc., and ASMI for short-term stays for homeless men discharged for misdemeanors
17) 22 beds reserved for programs in development, designed to reach out to the chronically homeless, especially those with dual diagnosis, special needs, and frequent incarceration
18) A combination of several other nonprofits and ministries will rally to support and serve the Gateway Center in other capacities.
Vince Smith said that they hope to cultivate a feeling to team-work, family, and connectedness at the Gateway, saying that the staffing of this facility starts in the heart, with a common vision and mission, and that the investments made here, be it an investment of vision, material donations, time, or money, drive the project's inspiration.
Please join the Atlanta Resource Foundation in prayer for the 24/7 Gateway Center?s continued progress and completion. They have received many generous donations, but are still in need of an in-kind donation of carpet for the facility. If you, or someone you know, are interested in meeting that need, please email Towles at email@example.com or Allen Bell at firstname.lastname@example.org. The Center's Certificate of Occupancy is to be filed on June 6th, 2005!
- 24/7 Gateway (2005)
- AMEN, Inc. (2005)
- Atlanta American Red Cross (2005)
- Atlanta Community Food Bank (2006)
- Atlanta Development Authority (2005)
- Atlanta Housing (2006)
- Atlanta Intercultural Ministries (2005)
- Atlanta Mission (2011)
- Atlanta Youth Academy (2007)
- Beltline & Proposed Westside Park (2011)
- Buckhead Christian Ministry (2006)
- Carver Bible College (2006)
- Carver YMCA (2009)
- Charis Community Housing (2012)
- Childspring (2007)
- City of Refuge
- Communitites in Schools (2005, 2007,2011)
- Covenant House (2004)
- Create Your Dreams (2005)
- David Allman and Friends (2004)
- Families First (2006)
- FCS Urban Ministries
- Frazer Center (2012)
- Georgia Student Leadership Forum
- Good Samaritan Health Center (2005)
- How People Grow (2012)
- Jars of Clay Outreach (2006)
- Justice (2012)
- The Leaders Lyceum
- Life Lessons (2006)
- Mary Mac's (2009)
- MedShare International (2004)
- SafeHouse Outreach (2005)
- Sears Building Becoming Ponce City Market (2012)
- Theatrical Outfit (2011)