Friday, April 13, 2012

Street Homelessness Initiative -- Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed's Remarks

Selected quotes from
8:30 AM on Thursday, April 5, 2012 at Georgia Tech Research Center

Thanks to a $3.1 million innovation delivery grant from the Bloomberg Philanthropies, they have gotten off to a terrific start in gathering information.

I also want you to know this. When we made the decision to apply for the Bloomberg grant, we literally could have applied for the grant for anything. And I wanted to apply in this space because I recognized that it was time for us to get started at this problem after taking a bit of a break.


You know, combating the homeless challenge is not a new endeavor. In fact, I believe under Mayor Franklin we made the most aggressive efforts that we have ever made in the City of Atlanta certainly in my lifetime to bring an end to this problem.

That deserves a round of applause … and an enormous amount of credit.

And what I have is, you know the first two years we were facing some really tough times in Atlanta. And focusing on the fiscal challenges of the city, I think, causes us to get our eye off the ball a bit.

So today is the next step in the down payment on our commitment to make sure that Atlanta is not a only city that is too busy to hate, but to make sure that we are not too busy to love as well. And you are a vital part of that.

And so my administration is making good on that promise today … right here … right now.

And what you are going to see are more and more resources, more and more talent, put to this problem so that you have very special partners working with you.

To Kristin, Susan and the entire Innovation Delivery Team – they have completed a tremendous amount of work. Going out and talking to you, hearing directly from you, preparing to tackle this issue.


So the other day, I opened up a letter from the Children’s School in the City of Atlanta. Commissioner Garner, they’re in your district, in your commission district.

There was one letter that touched my heart, in particular. It was from a nine-year-old named Molly Watkins, who wrote to me and expressed to me her concern about people living without homes having to live in their cars. This nine-year-old passionately talked about that even though we see people on the street … that doesn’t mean that we can treat them like trash.

But there is one part of her letter that perhaps says it better than anything that I can say.

She wrote:

“Mayor Reed, please close your eyes and step into a homeless child’s shoes and feel how hard it is to do the things that we do today. Do you feel the way they get treated? When I close my eyes I see people laughing and treating me like a poor, little ant. When I close my eyes, I feel like my life, my world, and my way is gone. Now open your eyes and feel the life that you have and compare. When I finish doing this I feel that this poverty stuff is just plain wrong and should be changed so nobody and I mean nobody is homeless.”

I want her to know today that I hear her loud and clear. And with your support, we are going to turn the tide of this terrible presence in our city.

I say all of the time, and I think it is really appropriate in this regard: If you want to go fast, go alone; but if you want to go far, go with others.

The work you have been doing is extraordinary work, really special work. But you haven’t been getting enough help from the City of Atlanta.

I’m here today to commit to you and to tell you we’ve put together a first-rate team. We’ve put together the resources to make real change.

So I’m very hopeful that beginning today, we will go far together. And because of our energy, our passion and our vigor, there will be people who will have their lives changed in a deeply profound way.

And that little nine-year-old girl will see people’s lives changed and know she made a difference.

God bless you all. Thank you for giving me a minute.

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