Author: William Liss
Published: 08/03/18

HOPE ATLANTA relocating Atlanta homeless who come to the airport on the last trains of the evening (MARTA), to spend the night, to downtown Atlanta shelters, with many given permanent housing and enrolled in training programs.

Atlanta, Georgia — ATLANTA — A follow-up to a story we first told you about in March, when Atlanta Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport instituted a new program restricting entrance to the Airport terminals from 11 p.m. to 4:30 a.m. to airport personnel and ticketed passengers and those assisting them.

But what about the scores of Atlanta’s homeless who have made the airport their overnight haven–arriving every night on the last MARTA trains.

It’s become an airport ritual.

Atlanta’s homeless arrive on the last of the night’s MARTA trains to spend the night away from the bitter cold; searing heat or bad weather outside.

But since March and the new entry plan, a dramatic change.

HOPE ATLANTA teams are now stepping in to intercept the homeless before they settle in.

They get a ride back downtown, then shelter, and a chance for training and permanent housing.

To make it work, the Airport and the City of Atlanta have kicked in almost quarter million dollars.

The goal for Hope Atlanta is to take the homeless who are overnighting at Hartsfield Jackson and put them into affordable housing and help them the start a new life.

Since March, more than 300 of Atlanta’s homeless have been shifted from overnighting at the airport to downtown shelters with many offered permanent housing.

One of them is Wilton Jones.

He went from homeless at the airport to a permanent housing in Jonesboro and now works as a delivery person for a local food chain.

“You look at everything differently. You look at a bar of soap in your soap dish differently. You look at glasses and cups and spoons differently.

Turning on lights–you look at that differently.

After looking at people in the street who never had these commodities–oh my goodness!” Jones said.

But not everyone comes out to the Airport to sleep.

Kevin Peek is one of them.

“I made a decision to go to the Airport for assistance,” he said.

“Those who want services actually come into the Airport just to get the services, and those trying to avoid them are being found by my airport team.” Said Ronald Jones, who heads Hope Atlanta’s outreach program.

After nearly 4 years on the street, Peek now lives in permanent housing in Clarkston.

“I’m moving forward; trying to move forward; trying to get back into the workforce and be more productive,” he said.

A goal shared by the Hope Atlanta Team, and many no longer on the streets or at the Airport.

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