The Georgia Court of Appeals has blocked the eviction of a homeless shelter from a prime piece of property in midtown Atlanta.
The move overrides a Fulton County judge's order earlier this month that required the Metro Atlanta Task Force for the Homeless to vacate from a building at the corner of Peachtree and Pine streets by Wednesday.
Fulton County Superior Court Judge Craig Schwall also had ordered the task force to turn over the shelter to a team run by the United Way of Metropolitan Atlanta, giving it six months find housing for the shelter's occupants before turning over the property to the company that now has the deed to the building.
On Wednesday, the people who run the shelter said they worry that the United Way will pull its assistance altogether.
"They were willing to do this when a judge ordered it, so why not let's just do it anyway?" asked Curtis Mottley, a resident volunteer for the task force. "We have been operating and running off of very little of nothing, and we're doing the very best we can."
Milton Little, president of the United Way of Metropolitan Atlanta, released the following statement Wednesday:
United Way of Metropolitan respects the Court of Appeals ruling on Peachtree-Pine men's shelter and continues its commitment to meeting the human needs created by the imminent closing of the shelter. United Way has in place a clear program, Operation RESPECT, to oversee the transition of the men at a time when the court order mandates the shelter's closure. This program will ensure that everyone is offered a place to go and that they are treated with dignity through an efficient and respectful process. For now, we will continue to deepen our resources and focus on the relationships that comprise the collective community response that strives to end chronic homelessness.
Through its successful Street to Home program and other outreach initiatives, United Way's Regional Commission on Homelessness will continue to address this critical need and provide resources and services to help alleviate the hardships that the homeless face on a daily basis.
For years, there's been a battle over the building that houses the shelter, located just blocks from the historic Fox Theatre. The task force was unable to pay its bills, forcing it into foreclosure.
The task force then sued Central Atlanta Progress and others, claiming they conspired with city of Atlanta officials to cut off its ability to raise the necessary public and private funds to keep it running.
Homeless Atlantan Charles Cullum hopes that the appeal process eventually will work in the shelter's favor, allowing it to remain open.
"It's middle of winter," said Cullum. "Where are we going to go?"
Copyright 2012, WGCL-TV (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.
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