ATLANTA—Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms provided an update on the City’s efforts to assist and protect the health and safety of homeless and displaced individuals during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Ensuring the health and wellbeing of those who are experiencing homelessness during this pandemic remains a top priority for this Administration,” said Mayor Bottoms. “Thank you to the countless partners from the public, private and philanthropic sectors for assisting the City in connecting our most vulnerable populations with the critical services they need. I also want to extend a special thank you to Partners for Home Executive Director Cathryn Marchman for their leadership in coordinating the network of partners.”
Chief among the highlights and progress made are:
A full-scale testing plan that has been developed by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), Mercy Care and Fulton County Board of Health. Testing is occurring across the City, with 16 shelter sites being fully tested (including more than 1,800 residents and staff members) and several other sites that at forthcoming. Two unsheltered sites have held testing events (testing more than 200 individuals), with at least five more unsheltered sites scheduled for this week. Thus far, testing has resulted in 28 positive COVID-19 cases.
The isolation hotel which serves people experiencing homelessness or the displaced who have tested positive for COVID-19, has been operational for two weeks.
The Administration has set aside an additional $1.5 million in emergency funding for homeless and displaced individuals, which was recently matched by an additional $1.5 million in philanthropic contributions. The funds, totaling $3 million, are being used to procure a hotel partner for non-congregate sheltering of up to 250 high-risk unsheltered individuals. The matching philanthropic donations will assist in providing food, staffing, case management and security for these efforts. The non-congregate shelter opens this week and will prioritize high-risk individuals experiencing homelessness.
The #ATLStrong fund received a $100,000 philanthropic donation, of which $50,000 is being designated for the City’s efforts with homeless and displaced individuals.
The City of Atlanta was awarded $9.7 million in Emergency Solutions Grant (ESG), Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) and Housing Opportunities for Persons with AIDS (HOPWA) federal entitlement grant funds—a portion of which will support homelessness related efforts such as emergency assistance, emergency lodging and rapid rehousing.
Earlier this month, Mayor Bottoms issued an Executive Order authorizing the allocation of up to $1.5 million to provide additional individual shelter options with supportive services for people experiencing homelessness.
Previously, Mayor Bottoms announced a partnership with Atlanta Housing (AH) that set forth several rent relief efforts for seniors, families, and other residents who live in AH-owned or subsidized units and have lost income as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Mayor also launched the #ATLSTRONG FUND, a donation campaign led by the Mayor’s Office in partnership with United Way of Greater Atlanta to support city of Atlanta residents experiencing economic hardships and health-related issues caused by COVID-19.
Donations to the #ATLStrong Fund will help support the following priorities:
Food security for Atlanta’s children and seniors;
Support for individuals experiencing homelessness;
Small business assistance;
Emergency assistance for Atlantans suffering financial hardship due to the pandemic, such as loss of income, rent or utility assistance, etc.
Additionally, one of the first measures taken by Mayor Bottoms was to issue an Administrative Order directing the Commissioner of Watershed Management to refrain from taking any action which would result in the termination of water services for any Watershed Management customer due to non-payment for 60 days.
The City has also posted prevention information and additional resources related to COVID-19 on its website here.
Chief among the City’s guidance to residents and visitors are the following preventative measures:
Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
Stay home when you are sick.
Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.
If you have recently returned from a country with ongoing COVID-19 infections, monitor your health and follow the instructions of public health officials.