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Built Environment Analysis Draft 1

The Peachtree-Pine homeless shelter, the largest in the city of Atlanta, has faced threats of closure from city officials since its inception. Mayor Kasim Reed now spearheads the crusade to terminate its utilization, and the shelter will be closed within the coming months. Despite arguments made by city officials, the closure of the Peachtree-Pine shelter poses significant threats to the social and economic well-being of the city of Atlanta.

An AJC article by Bill Torpy describes the potential closure of Peachtree-Pine homeless shelter, assigned to a conspiracy by the city of Atlanta. Mayor Kasim Reed is immediately quoted on his determination to close the shelter; meanwhile, the author reflects on previous efforts of cessation, due to health and financial reasons. Torpy then characterizes the necessity of the shelter through a vivid description of its utility for nearly 700 homeless men, women, and children. While the environment of the shelter resembles a “way station for Purgatory,” he asserts its benefits for the homeless population and the city, as it provides the former an escape from crime, drug abuse, and insecurity prevalent on the streets. The latter half of the article describes a lawsuit by the shelter against Atlanta officials for the spread of “damaging info” about the shelter to gain support for its closure. The hearing is scheduled for October and determines the fate of the shelter, which will be replaced by a police-fire emergency center with teams to secure public safety against threats of terrorism with the expansion of ISIS.

The author presents immense bias towards the security of the shelter. Advocacy for its continuity is evident in the sarcasm of the title, which denotes the unlikeliness of an attack and its illegitimacy as an excuse for termination of the shelter. He devotes a significant proportion of the article to a description of the people and environment of the shelter, meant to arouse pathos and subsequently condemn the inhumanity of Reed and his proposal. He refers to Reed and other Atlanta officials as the “Powers That Be,” a criticism of their detachment from the mundane world and the plight of the homeless population.

The Atlanta Business Chronicle article by Maria Saporta more objectively reports Mayor Reed’s call for the cessation of the Peachtree-Pine homeless shelter. His claims are attributed to health issues associated with the shelter and validated by the Centers for Disease Control, derived from the rampant spread of tuberculosis in the area. The article only briefly mentions the construction of a “police and fire department” in its place, and details his plan to build a “‘best-in-class’” facility for the homeless who inhabit the Peachtree-Pine shelter.

This article offers a more neutral catalogue of events regarding the shelter. Any bias maintained by the author would be evident in the information not presented by the article. There is one sentence at the end of the article that alludes to the lawsuit placed by the shelter, and no further exploration of the determination of the city to close the shelter. The first AJC article by Bill Torpy similarly fails to mention Reed’s plan to replace the current building on Peachtree-Pine with an improved shelter for the homeless.

Residents of nearby communities maintain varied opinions on the continuity of the shelter, with some arguing for its closure in accordance with the Mayor’s plans.

“From the very start Peachtree-Pine has generated tremendous problems for the surrounding community, and at every step of the way they have balked at community feedback with the attitude that they could never go wrong with their cause,” the Midtown Ponce Security Alliance wrote on Thursday (“Will Peachtree-Pine Homeless Shelter Close for Good?”). The shelter has struggled for years to stay open, in part because it doesn’t raise enough money to cover the cost of operations. The shelter owes the city of Atlanta nearly $200,000 for water and sewer service (“Will Peachtree-Pine Homeless Shelter Close for Good?”).  Earlier this year, a man was also shot to death outside of the shelter.

Still others argue that the shelter should continue to serve the homeless population of the city of Atlanta.

“The issues with the Peachtree-Pine shelter have been going on for awhile,” community advocate and Midtown resident Angel Poventud said Friday. “It’s really unfortunate that all sides have to put their heels to the ground. The people in the building are getting the least amount of attention. Nobody’s talking about them” (“Will Peachtree-Pine Homeless Shelter Close for Good?”).

Other major cities have experimented with the closure of large homeless shelters; Boston closed its largest shelter with the compromise of a nearby bridge’s structural integrity, leaving 700 individuals without a route to the shelter or a bed for the cold October nights. According to an article in The Harvard Crimson, “Weeks after Boston officials closed a major homeless shelter located on a island in Boston Harbor, local homelessness service providers said they are already struggling with increased demand before the onset of winter…Although the city of Boston, which ran the Long Island Shelter, created more spaces for the homeless elsewhere in the metro area, including the South End Fitness Center, it did not replace all of the 700 beds lost to bridge construction”  (“Following Long Island Closure, Local Homeless Shelters Struggle with Demand”).

A lack of resources for the homeless community of Boston is also evident in the decreased number of detox beds available to individuals in remaining shelters. These beds, complete with medical support, are designed for people in their recovery from substance abuse. Other unintended consequences of the closure are the lack of resources, in addition to the detox beds, available to remaining shelters. The approach of winter at the time of its closure meant that more space would be necessary within remaining shelters, and the increasing flow of homeless people requires more volunteers and coordinators to assist with paperwork and services provided by the shelters (“Following Long Island Closure, Local Homeless Shelters Struggle with Demand”).

The lack of resources caused by the closure of shelter like Long Island and Peachtree-Pine also decreases the standard of living among average citizens, with increased evidence of homelessness negatively effecting the economy of an area. An opinion piece by Bill McGahan assigns the socio-economic fate of Downtown Atlanta to the eradication of chronic homelessness.  Public fear created by proximity to the homeless population negates any investment in infrastructure; the vacancy of Downtown after dark and the evident presence of homelessness is an issue addressed in the first article. McGahan reports that of the 5,600 Atlantans who face homeless each night, 1,600 are chronically homeless (“Opinion: End Chronic Homelessness | Atlanta Forward Blog.”).



Works Cited

“Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed Calls for Closing of Peachtree and Pine Homeless Facility.” Atlanta Business Chronicle. N.p., n.d. Web. 16 Oct. 2016.

“Following Long Island Closure, Local Homeless Shelters Struggle with Demand” The Harvard Crimson. N.p., n.d. Web. 8 Nov. 2016.

Journal-Constitution, By Bill Torpy-The Atlanta. “Peachtree Pine Homeless Shelter Back in Mayor’s Sights.” N.p., n.d. Web. 16 Oct. 2016.

“Opinion: End Chronic Homelessness | Atlanta Forward Blog.” N.p., n.d. Web. 16 Sept. 2016.

“Will Peachtree-Pine Homeless Shelter Close for Good?” Midtown, GA Patch. N.p., 21 Oct. 2011. Web. 7 Nov. 2016.

nbritton1 • November 3, 2016

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