Friday, December 19, 2008

Task Force shelter in peril?

There is a great article in Creative Loafing detailing the history of the Peachtree and Pine shelter, as well as the array of powers against it.  

The entire article is great, and a must-read if you are interested in the problem of homelessness in Atlanta.  I will admit to being biased, so I won't elaborate much on the basic issue.  You can read through the Panhandlers tag if you want my take on Atlanta's homeless situation.

Regarding current events, I have avoided posting on the shelter's issues paying their water bill.  I am not quite sure what to think about all this stuff.  I certainly don't like the shelter, and I want it to close.  I am not going to cackle with glee if they get shut down, though, and feel uncomfortable rooting for things like shutting the water off.  

Ideally, I would like to see the people that run it realize they aren't helping, and close on their own.  Given the reputation of the leadership there, that won't happen.  The CL article tries to give a fair picture of Anita Beatty, but she has burned a lot of bridges over the years and alienated a lot of people.  It would be easy to pick quotes from folks like Debi Starnes, the city's homeless czar, to paint the Task Force poorly.  What hurts more are the quotes from people who are or were ostensibly allies.

Bruce Gunter is a non-profit developer who helped the Task Force obtain the Peachtree and Pine building:
Gunter agrees that, by running a loose ship, the Task Force’s isn’t helping most of its residents.  “One of the worst things you can do to someone’s dignity is to create dependency, to tell people you don’t expect them to get their lives together,” he says. “It’s been a terrible service to homeless people."

All the controversy is troubling to Bill Bolling, director of the Atlanta Food Bank and a co-founder of the Task Force.

“There’s no one who cares more for the homeless than Anita, but she’s burnt bridges with funders and other agencies,” he explains. “Trying to be a thorn in people’s side doesn’t work over the long haul and I don’t think the Task Force in recent years has been good for the movement because they’ve never progressed.”
Read the whole article.  To me, Beatty comes off as someone who wants to be a martyr, and who while not delusional (she is right, lots of people are trying to close the shelter) is unable or unwilling to see her own role in her woes.  A friend of mine likes to say that most of our problems are of our own making, and that seems to be the case with the Task Force.

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