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Families’ previous residences were hotbeds of criminal activity

There are an estimated 220 children and over 170 families with children attending DeKalb County Schools who are currently residing in hotels that are havens for drug trafficking, prostitution and substance abuse. HOPE Atlanta, in addition to several collaborative partners, participated in the Hotel to Permanency project (H2P) which aims to identify homeless individuals and families who live in hotels and transfer them to permanent housing. As of today, 147 people living in the unsafe residences, 97 of them children, have been relocated to permanent housing.

HOPE Atlanta initially became involved in the H2P project when a DeKalb County School Student Support Services/Homeless Social Worker informed the nonprofit organization that an estimated 10 hotels had recently been deemed unsafe by DeKalb County Code Enforcement, the Health Department and the DeKalb County Police Department. The identified hotels housed several families with school-aged children, many of whom were not attending classes. Out of concern for the occupants’ safety and the children’s education, HOPE Atlanta and a team of nonprofit organizations that serve the homeless sought to identify and relocate those living in the hotels in to more stable housing with supportive services.

“As a nonprofit, your mission is to positively impact the lives of those you serve,” Edward Powers, executive director of HOPE Atlanta says. “Working with committed collaborators and knowing that you share the same goals makes the job easier. We enjoyed working with this group of organizations and look forward to changing more lives with them in the future.”

This highly successful program involves extensive interagency collaboration.

  • A member of HOPE Atlanta’s Street Outreach program visits the hotels to build relationships and assess needs with the families and communicate about options.
  • Decatur Cooperative Ministries, with the assistance of DeKalb Workforce Development and Salvation Army organized an outreach event where families completed an assessment of their needs and obtain the required information necessary to be placed in the housing program.
  • The Housing Authority of DeKalb County (HADC) received documents from Decatur Cooperative Ministries to determine program eligibility.  For eligible families, HADC gives a Tenant Based Rental Assistance Voucher (TBRA).
  • Case managers from the HDAC, Decatur Cooperative Ministries, Salvation Army, Partnership for Community Action, HOPE Atlanta and New Life Ministries are assigned families.
  • HADC works with the case managers to locate housing, schedules the inspections, completes the contracts and administers the payments on behalf of DeKalb County Community Development.
  • Case managers work with the families using the Arizona Self-Sufficiency Model to assist the family in meeting their goals in order to achieve self-sufficiency and become independent of the housing subsidy after the 12-month period.  They link the families to services such as; Education, Employment, Job Training, Mental Health, Health Care, Financial Literacy, Food Stamps, Child Care, and Medicaid.

The families that participated in the H2P project were provided with HOME Tenant Basic Rental Assistance Program (Vouchers) for one year through HADC and case management is provided through the collaborative.

The partnering agencies include: Decatur Cooperative Ministries, DeKalb County Police, Housing Authority of DeKalb County (HADC), DeKalb County Community Development Department, DeKalb County Schools (Homeless Social Worker Program), DeKalb County Workforce Development, Faith Based Organizations and HOPE Atlanta.

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About HOPE Atlanta

HOPE Atlanta, formerly Travelers Aid of Metro Atlanta, offers an array of services including shelter and other emergency services, transitional and permanent supportive housing, case management, street outreach, homeless prevention, domestic violence services, Veterans services, HIV/AIDS services, reunification, and rapid re-housing. The majority of the people we assist are homeless or about to become homeless and have very low income. Many are chronically homeless, veterans, victims of domestic violence, suffering from mental or physical illness, or chemically addicted.  They are usually in need of immediate crisis intervention services.  The crises may be due to homelessness, the threat of homelessness, unemployment, abandonment, poverty, illness, hunger, domestic violence, financial emergencies, and/or unforeseen circumstances.

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