(This was originally post June 23, 2009 when the city of Atlanta turned off the water supply to the Metro Atlanta Taskforce for the Homeless’s shelter.)
I just got back from the shelter where I talked to the Director of the Metro Atlanta Taskforce for the Homeless, Anita Beaty, who owns and operates the shelter. Several of the homeless and a few activists have started picketing on Peachtree Street (in front of the shelter) to bring awareness that they have been cut off from water services and to demand justice. I also witnessed a trickle of individual citizens driving up with donations of jugs and bottles of water for the homeless in the shelter. The Taskforce has not been to court yet, but they are supposed to go this afternoon to see if they can get the water turned back on. As of now, no water except out of one faucet, which they don’t know where it is coming from. No bathrooms, but Crossroads Ministry (not 24 hours), Publix Grocery Store, BP gas station and Emory Midtown Hospital have all said the homeless can use their bathrooms. But there has been unconfirmed reports that at the Hospital the homeless are being arrested. Anita assured the men that if they are approached by the police they can return to the shelter where they can get legal council from volunteer lawyers. She encouraged the men to find shelter elsewhere if they can find it, but she is skeptical, despite the claims of the city, that there is enough shelter outside of the Taskforce for the Homeless. Anita is simply asking that the city, and specifically the “democratically elected Mayor Shirley Franklin,” not to prevent its citizens from receiving basic sustenance, like water, food and shelter, especially during the most intense heat spell of the summer. The big suprise of the day was the announcement by Anita to the men in the shelter that in the next few weeks they will be able to announce an investor that will allow them to pay off all of their debts.