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City scores significant legal win over Task Force for the Homeless

Eleventh Circuit U.S. District Court upholds a 2011 lower court ruling in favor of the City. It's the latest in a series of legal setbacks for the Task Force in its efforts to continue operating the Peachtree-Pine homeless shelter.

During the same week that the City of Atlanta is helping organize a large-scale volunteer effort to survey people sleeping in unsheltered locations and emergency shelters, the City scored a major legal win over the Metropolitan Atlanta Task Force for the Homeless on Tuesday that could lead to the 2013 closing of the Task Force-operated Peachtree-Pine homeless shelter just south of Midtown.

Maria Saporta of Saporta Report writes that the Eleventh Circuit U.S. District Court has upheld a 2011 lower court ruling in favor of the City after the Task Force filed a 2008 lawsuit in response to the City seeking to collect on delinquent water and sewer bills.

It’s the latest in a series of legal setbacks for the Task Force and is reportedly the end of the legal process at the federal level.

Saporta writes that the Eleventh Circuit agreed with the lower court ruling in that the “Task Force did not properly plead a First Amendment claim, that the Task Force did not demonstrate an equal protection violation by the city, and that the city did not deprive the Task Force of due process.”

The homeless shelter building at the corner of Peachtree and Pine streets has been housing hundreds of homeless men for last 15 or so years. That’s when Coca-Cola heiress Ednabelle Wardlaw purchased the 100,000-square-foot former auto parts warehouse and donated it to the the Task Force.

Over the last decade and a half, the shelter has generated a number of problems for Midtown and surrounding neighborhoods. Atlanta Police Department officials have confirmed that a certain amount of criminal activity that occurs in Midtown originates from those staying at and around the shelter.

The Task Force piled up more than $147,000 in unpaid utility bills over the years and three years ago, the nonprofit Ichthus Community Trust, bought two outstanding liens on the building and then foreclosed on it. Ever since, the Task Force has been fighting eviction through a series of lawsuits.

Last February, it looked as if the Task Force had run out of options as Fulton County Superior Court Judge Craig Schwall ordered the Task Force to leave the shelter and turn it over the United Way of Metropolitan Atlanta, which would take six months to find housing for the men who stay there.

But on the day the shelter was to be turned over the United Way – Feb. 15, 2012 - that decision was blocked by the Georgia Court of Appeals, which granted the stay until "it decides on the issues involving whether the Task Force can make a direct appeal to the Court."

bob January 16, 2013 at 04:32 PM
This shelter, which I drive by often, is a magnet for crime and miscreants. The shelter does not provide any meaningful rehabilitation and many of the residents of the shelter are responsible for a large portion of crime throughout Downtown and Midtown Atlanta, especially vehicle larceny. If this shelter were run properly, it would be another story, but Task Force for the Homeless is a place where the homeless are given a place to congregate, cause trouble and receive no rehabilitation, mental illness help or counseling. It has long been time for it to go and for a more capable organization to take over and for it to be relocated to a place that doesn't inhibit the development of the city. Peachtree Pines and Bedford Pines are the two main epicenters of crime in Atlanta and once they receive proper attention, Atlanta can truly grow, develop, integrate and flourish. Shut the place down and turn it over to the United Way, who can actually help these people.
Tammy January 16, 2013 at 05:58 PM
Nothing will happen. Things will stay just the same. Watch and see.
Clicker January 16, 2013 at 07:10 PM
You are right Tammy. That shelter is one of the main contributing factors to me giving up on living in that part of town. After 10 years and countless run-ins with the crackheads and piss-bums at the post office, Publix, Crawford Long, etc..., I finally had enough and got out of there 3 years ago. It's a shame that deplorable 'shelter' has been allowed to denigrate the neighborhood in such a despicable fashion. The bleeding hearts around the city that clamor to keep it open would sooner die than see it move next to their homes in their pristine, cutie-pie cul-de-sacs.
Monty Burns January 16, 2013 at 11:39 PM
The shelters best odds of survival is to open a Gidewon nightclub in the basement. Then Kasim and his celebrity-obsessed crew would keep it open indefinitely. Or else get the shelter access to the $200M+ trolley that's being built for absolutely no reason at all. Perhaps they can sponsor a suite at the Kasim-supported Falcons stadium that over 72% of Georgians are against. Too bad the Mayor doesn't support the voice of the Midtown citizens.
Chris Murphy January 20, 2013 at 03:06 PM
@Aya- that's exactly right. One article by the AJC some years ago showed that the Beattys had a $5 million retirement fund.

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