Residents tell city officials they don't want homeless community built in Mechanicsville

A neighborhood is pushing back against an initiative to get people experiencing homelessness off the streets of Atlanta.  

Residents in Mechanicsville spoke out Wednesday night against setting up homes for the unhoused in their community.

While they understand the need for places for the homeless to live, residents are angry that the city made plans to put a homeless community in their neighborhood without consulting them.

"Do we have a vote to say 'yes' or 'no'? Do we have any say whatsoever," one woman said during a meeting with city officials.

As part of Atlanta's "rapid housing plan for homeless," the city is doing a land swap with Atlanta Public Schools. The city will give APS land on Boulevard in the Old Fourth Ward. APS will give the city a two acre lot on Cooper Street in Mechanicsville.

"The need for stable, quality housing for the unhoused in the city," said Josh Humphries, Director of Atlanta Housing and Community Development.

The city wants to build housing options for unhoused residents, as well as have resources such as mental health and substance abuse treatment and employment opportunities.

Some residents say the city has already put multiple low income and affordable housing projects in Mechanicsville, this time they need to choose somewhere else.

"I'm sure there's a City of Atlanta lot in Grant Park, Inman Park, I'll give you a list. But not in Mechanicsville," said Diana Lynch.

"We need things that are bringing the community up and not things that are tearing it down. If you drive around I can show you 20 different homeless sites, there's been a murder on the site they're talking about," said Sharon Collins, who has lived in Mechanicsville almost her entire life.

"It feels like we're going backwards instead of forward.  We're adding problems without solving any of our issues in the community," said David Holder, who has lived in Mechanicsville for 20 years.  

Atlanta City Councilman Jason Dozier introduced the legislation regarding the land swap. He said he was thankful so many people came to the meeting to talk about their concerns, and he says he understands their passion.

Dozier said the actual project is not a done deal. He says while the city intends to build on Cooper Street, what it will look like has not been determined.