Forum discusses state of homelessness in metro Atlanta area

ATLANTA — A forum focusing on the state of homeless people in metro Atlanta took place Thursday at St. Luke’s Episcopal Church in Midtown Atlanta.

Speakers and panels discussed some of the deeper issues when it comes to getting people off the streets.

The number of homeless people in metro Atlanta is declining.

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Over the last decade, the numbers have been cut in half.

But there are still problems, especially over the last year with higher rent and less inventory when it comes to finding affordable homes.

The homeless can be anyone, not just someone with mental health or substance abuse problems.

The Atlanta Regional Housing Forum focused on homelessness across the metro Atlanta area, not just in the middle of the city, including three encampments in Henry County.

“There’s a lot going on around the homeless and affordable housing,” Bill Bolling said. “It’s an issue everywhere. And when we look at outlying counties it’s often families that don’t have a place to live.”


Bolling, the forum’s founder, started addressing the issue of homelessness back in the mid 80′s after starting the Atlanta Community Food Bank.

“(It) certainly has to do with mental health, a lack of services, and lack of places to refer people,” Bolling said.

Raphael Holloway, CEO of the Gateway Center, and others also took part in the discussion.

He said there needs to be a move from emergency shelters, to transitional, into more permanent, affordable housing in the city.

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“We have seen a decrease in the number of people, but we also have seen an increase in the amount of need that people are presenting at our office,” Holloway said.

The homeless rates in Atlanta have dropped in recent years, from around 3,000 in 2020 to just over 2,000 homeless in 2022.

There was another “point in time count” back in January and those new numbers should be released this summer.