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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."

Atl Resident January 16, 2013 at 05:30 AM
they put the people there on a bus and shipped them clayton county
Atl Resident January 16, 2013 at 05:31 AM
meant they should...
Edi January 16, 2013 at 01:54 PM
Instead of Obmarama throwing away billions for faulty green technology to payoff his big donors, he SHOULD be setting up a proper system for taking care of people like this (i.e., people should have to take some sort of basic logic test before they vote otherwise the country is going to run into a hole in the ground.) People who can't hold a job or survive in normal society are not evil, they are just different than the zombies that can survive in such a system. Fix society at this basic level before you whine about the 1%.
Aya Turner January 16, 2013 at 04:01 PM
I'm sorry but if this building is owned by someone else, then these people are now squatters. It's time to move. Any normal citizen would not have the right to continually sue to keep their property.... they should have paid their bills, considering the salaries the Beatys draw in, it appears to have been profitable for them at the expense of the homeless.
AlwaysGettingBetter January 16, 2013 at 04:24 PM
Ichthus Community Trust? Is This a "religious" investment group foreclosing on the shelter? What? so they can get a cheap tax free real estate base in a prime location? Or just a valuable property to add to their earthly treasures...? Ahh, I just searched "ichthus community trust," and my suspicions are confirmed -- tho this story is much more complicated -- it appears to come down to "greed." For an excellent overview go here: http://www.abajournal.com/magazine/article/battle_of_atlanta_fight_over_a_downtown_homeless_shelter_strains/ No doubt, the shelter is a mess and must change for the better....However, after reading the machinations of our government and corporate/capital groups, I do have more sympathy for the issues at hand. The bare hands of capitalism would push these people into the shadows to die or lock them in prisons (even there, they are vehicles for profit where $ is made by privatization).
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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