Atlanta, Georgia – The Atlanta City Council made history on Monday when they passed a motion to address both airport safety and homelessness, especially at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport. This decision is a big step toward easing the rising concern about homeless people seeking shelter in one of the busiest airports in the world.
The measure, which was passed last week, asks the airport to help these people more proactively. It wants to make restricted areas bigger so that only ticketed tourists can get in. This project isn’t just about making travelers safer; it’s also about helping people who don’t have homes.
In a conversation with 11 Alive before the meeting, Councilman Antonio Lewis said he was committed to finding an answer that would help both travelers and people who don’t have a place to live. He said that our famous airport has become a safe place for many people to stay, and that they are looking into how to get our help straight to these people at the airport.
Other places, like Denver and San Diego, are having problems that are similar to Atlanta’s. Recently, the people of San Diego voted against building a shelter near their airport. When asked if Atlanta could use strategies from these places, Lewis said that none of them seemed to fit the needs of Atlanta’s specific demographics. He said that they are trying to come up with a solution that is unique to Atlanta, but they know that their first attempts might not be great.
Nonprofits in the area have already started to offer help. Marcy Louza runs the Sandwich Project, which feeds homeless people in Atlanta. Louza thinks the resolution is a good step, but she adds that it’s not a complete answer. Louza said that helping people who are poor at airports won’t solve the bigger problem. It might just move the trouble to somewhere else.
Santiago Marquez from the Latin American Association pointed out that the situation of these people is made even worse by the fact that many of them are foreigners. He said that they had gotten calls about refugees who got stuck at the airport. Many of them were from Latin American countries and were without a place to stay when they got there.
Airport officials are aware of the problem and are willing to work with groups like Marquez’s to find a solution.
The Atlanta City Council’s resolution is an important acknowledgement of and reaction to the complicated problem of people who are homeless at airports. This is the first step in a long process to make sure that homeless people can find safe and humane housing while also protecting one of the world’s busiest travel places.
Lots of other cities with problems like Atlanta’s will be watching and learning from how they handle things as the city goes forward.