ATLANTA — On Sunday night, members of Atlanta’s houseless community notified local press that members of the city’s houseless community have unionized and that union camps have formed in the lawn in front of City Hall.
Sources on the ground tell us that there are currently 30 people at the encampment, explaining they intend to “be here until their demands are met.” The community, who identify as the ATL Homeless Union, will host a rally every day at 11:30 a.m. that “people are encouraged to come to.”
In their official press release sent out to reporters throughout the city, including The Mainline, unhoused leaders from across Atlanta say that, “Nobody else that’s not walking in our shoes gonna tell us what to do. Teach us how to fish, and we’ll eat forever. The homeless have unionized, and we’re here for what we deserve.”
Data collection from last year found there are approximately 3,200 houseless people in the City of Atlanta’s 130 square-mile footprint.
“We are not satisfied with the limited shelters that treat us less-than human, a warming station in the winter, and some blankets,” the ATL Homeless Union explain in their press release. “We are also not satisfied with the lack of healthcare treatment we receive at Grady. No more bandaid solutions. We need homes. We need water.”
The full demands are listed as follows, as delivered to us in the official press release announcement:
- We demand homes. With the millions of dollars we spend on shelters and services, we can house every unhoused person in the City. The City should convert vacant and City-owned properties into permanent homes for those who are unhoused. We demand that the City invest pandemic relief funds in long-term housing solutions.
- We demand healthcare. We need primary care access so that we don’t have to go to the emergency room every single time we need basic healthcare. Preventive care saves lives and taxpayer money. All unhoused people should have access to regular preventive medical care.
- We demand water. The City controls the Water Department. Especially during this pandemic, we need water to stay sanitary. The City should guarantee showers, bathrooms, and handwashing stations for unhoused people.
- We demand a seat. The City is busy talking to everyone except us about what we need. We deserve a seat at the table. We need to be consulted about the policies that will impact our lives. The City should follow our leadership.
“If the City is serious about addressing homelessness, this is what it’ll take. If the City is not serious about ending homelessness, the powers that be will continue doing what they’re doing: money to hotels, warming centers, handouts. Someone benefits from those incremental proposals. And it’s not us … We’re not gonna go for it anymore. We are here and we are here to stay.”
We will continue to report on this story as it develops.