Sound familiar?

Judge orders Atlanta Midtown homeless shelter handed over to United Way

Atlanta- Feb 4th:  Fulton County Superior Court Judge Craig Schwall on Friday ordered the Metro Atlanta Task Force for the Homeless to hand over control of its controversial Midtown shelter to the United Way this month. Schwall also ordered the United Way to handle operation until the 600-men shelter closes in six months. Schwall said he had protected the task force from eviction for nearly two years by stopping the new owner from removing the occupants of the building at the corner of Peachtree and Pine streets.The judge made it clear that politics of the task force’s founders, Anita and Jim Beaty, made him doubt their sincerity. Anita Beaty, the executive director of the task force, allowed Occupy Atlanta to meet at the shelter, which the judge called a “political statement.” He also complained the Beatys were paid a total of $100,000 from a separate company for their work for the homeless — implying that was their motivation.

“You got the United Way that has a lot of resources coming into court and saying ‘We will take care of them,'” Schwall said. “If your clients are really interested in the homeless rather than Occupy Atlanta and their $50,000 salaries” they will hand over the shelter to the United Way.

He gave the Beatys until noon on Feb. 15 to vacate the property and ordered the shelter closed by Aug. 31. Schwall said he planned to hold the United Way of Metropolitan Atlanta accountable to find housing for all of the men.

“I want to make sure that justice was served and the homeless are taken care of,” Schwall said.

Steve Hall, the lawyer for the task force, pleaded with Schwall to let him share evidence that the United Way didn’t have the resources to care for the 600 men he said were now staying in the 435-bed shelter, as well as the new men coming into the overflow shelter. Hall said the judge’s assertion that the salaries were the Beatys’ motivation was misplaced, noting a developer had bought off the loans on the 100,000-square-foot building.

Schwall said he was not convinced the Beatys had the best interest of the homeless in mind since they were battling in court with many of the major players in the city including Emory University and Emory Healthcare, which owns a Midtown hospital. The task force is also suing Manny Fialkow, the Norcross developer who purchased the defaulted-on loans for the building for $900,000, Central Atlanta Progress, a downtown business association which has battled with the Beatys and the shelter for years, the Atlanta Downtown Improvement District, and other entities in Fulton County Superior Court.

“What was the purpose of suing Emory University and antagonizing a huge pot of money,” Schwall, an Emory law school grad, said. “It tells me it is more about power, money, control, revenge and anger than it is about the homeless.”

Beaty has contended her overflow shelter helps men who cannot get help from other shelters. Her critics say that her shelter only warehouses men without assisting them with finding permanent housing, which Hall called an absolute lie. His lawsuit for the task force says the Central Atlanta Progress, along with Emory University and the City of Atlanta conspired to dry up the task force’s public grants and private funding with the goal of closing the shelter.

“These people assassinated us,” Hall said.

Protip Biswas, who runs the homeless initiatives for the United Way, told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution in a separate interview that the United Way’s Streets to Homes program possibly could find 25 transitional beds a week for the men and acknowledged that most shelter beds would already be filled, which would mean occupying floor space.

“We know we can do small manageable numbers of 20 to 25, but if there are more than that it will have to be a drastic solutions of throwing mats on the floor,” said Biswas, vice president for the United Way Regional Commission on Homelessness.

It’s like deja vu all over again. The city of Atlanta has a “privately” run homeless facility  that generates millions of dollars in revenues through major grants and donations. They have administrators that “manage” these funds in questionable fashions and produce even more questionable results. Downtown businesses and government agencies tire of the escalating negative effects by the homeless facility on the downtown community. The homelessness facility in their arrogance sues the city of Atlanta and local business group instead of working with those entities to lower the impact of their facility on the surrounding community. Any of this sound familiar? The difference is that the city of Atlanta is one step ahead of Panama City and has a judge who has had the courage to reassign management of the facility to a national organization that will be a responsible community partner and is open in its operations and finances. 

source: http://www.ajc.com/news/atlanta/judge-orders-midtown-homeless-1330322.html

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Another “top ten” list from the rescue mission facility

As part of the rescue missions branding efforts, they would like the community to “think” that those who use their facility are the “down on their luck veteran” or the “young family with child that have fallen on hard time”. Although this profile may be a small percentage of those being served, the reality is that the rescue mission is the host to a variety of different criminal elements. This posting of the “top ten” is just from the past 14 days.

Burglary, petit theft, larceny, trespassing

Criminal trespassing, prior arrest

Indecent exposure, three prior arrest

Burglary, battery on an officer, drug manufacturing, prior arrest

Petit larceny, four prior arrest

violation of probation, possession of listed chemical

loitering, prowling

drunk in public, nine prior arrest

Trespassing, SIXTEEN prior arrest

Drug dealer, prior arrest

Is this what we want in our community? Is this what we want to SUPPORT with our donation dollars? These are habitual criminals. When you open your check book and write a check to the Rescue Mission, you are bringing this behavior into your community.


Nationally homeless numbers decreasing so why are Panama City’s numbers “off the charts”?

In the January 17th, 2012 release of “The state of Homelessness in America 2012” compiled by the National Alliance to End  Homelessness it offers the conclusion that despite the poor economy, homelessness DECLINED by 1% during the period of 2009 to 2011. They add that the decrease was likely due to a significant investment of federal resources to prevent homelessness and quickly rehouse people who did become homeless. Additionally in the report a number of major findings were posted:

* The nations homeless decreased by one percent or about 7000 people; it went from 643,076 in 2009 to 636,017 in 2011. There were decreased number of people experiencing homelessness on most of the subpopulations examined in this report: families, individuals in families, chronic and individuals.

* The largest decrease was among homeless veterans, whose population declined by 11%

*The national rate of homelessness was 21 homeless per 10,000 people in the general population.

* Chronic homelessness decreased by 3% from 110,911 in 2009 to 107,148 in 2011. The chronic homeless population has decreased by 13% since 2007

According to a recent News Herald article, Mr. Billy Fox executive director of the rescue mission is quoted as saying” Two people per day sign in new to the mission. Meals are steady and well over 700 per day” . The article additionally stated that the demand for services has INCREASED BY 30%. The rescue mission’s own website under the services tab shows a bountiful increase in numbers served each year from 2002 through 2010.

Mr. Robert Marbut, a nationally known expert on the homeless in a recent evaluation of Panama City characterized  our cities vagrancy problem as “off the charts”. Marbut said the numbers are six or seven times higher than San Antonio or St. Petersburg.

So, why such a discrepancy in the numbers? Why are nationally numbers steady dropping and Panama City has experienced a thirty percent increase? Why if the the national average is 21 per 10,000 in population are our numbers so disproportionally high? Using national averages a city of our size should have no more than approx 60 people experiencing some form of homelessness. If we only have 60 homeless, what is an organization with a budget of 2.3 million dollars doing with all that money? Why do they need a paid staff with total payrolls of over $625,000 per year? These are important questions to answer as one looks at the number of vacant store fronts in our downtown area. These are a hard numbers to evaluate as one looks at the loss of property values in downtown in the past five years. This information is worth pondering when one looks at the additional police services that are required directly due to the rescue mission. How long will we as citizens of Panama City turn a blind eye to the truth of what the rescue mission is doing to our downtown? How far must we decline before the community calls out the rescue mission for the toxic effects they have had on our community? Food for thought

sources: http://www.endhomelessness.org/content/article/detail/4361

Great question!

Our local media are unwilling to fairly report all of the facts of the rescue missions effect on downtown businesses and property values. The “kid’s glove” approach towards the activities of the mission by media channels has allowed a continued distortion of the facts. By NOT telling the story in its completeness, media venues are doing our community a disservice. (You listening Caz?) Are they too worried about upsetting advertisers by not reporting the facts? Are they too unprofessional to not take sides on an issue and report information without bias? As many who follow our blog and have sent us emails know, we currently have over 150 readers each day with around 8000 total views since the blogs conception. In a recent facebook page posting we were asked the question by a reader, “Where would you move it?” Here is our response that we want to share with our readership;

Well that depends. The rescue mission management has made an “industry” out of processing vast numbers of homeless. By scouting out for larger and larger numbers of homeless from outside of communities other than our own, it has allowed them to become eligible for larger, nationally based grants. The rescue mission is a money making machine (by the way all this financial documentation is available on the website (www.movethemission.wordpress.com) The reality is that as a “private” organization they have every right to create a business model on the backs of vagrants no matter how distasteful the reality of that is. What they DON’T have the right to do is have a negative impact on their neighboring property owners and surrounding businesses. The rescue mission has created the vagrancy problem downtown which has directly affected downtown businesses. So, this brings us back to your original question and my vague answer. If they want to continue to have a facility that processes large volumes of “homeless”, the rescue mission needs to relocate to an area that having large numbers of homeless will have no impact on surrounding neighbors. A farm like setting or in an area zoned as industrial would fit that bill. County commissioners have looked at the area around the 231 industrial park as a possible location.The alternative would be for the rescue mission to get back to the core principals that the organization was founded under to “help” those locals truly in need. But this action would require them to downsize and would effect the revenues of the facility and more importantly the incomes of those in charge (again, go to the website for a run down on salaries). Downsizing would give the rescue mission more options as far as location. At this point their activities would be in such a fashion that they could seamlessly blend into the community without affecting surrounding property values or businesses revenues. The rescue mission has had a toxic effect on downtown and downtown will continue to decline until the rescue mission is gone from downtown. Please visit our website for more info (www.movethemission.wordpress.com)
Please be sure and sign our petition at:

Rescue Mission claims to be “running low on food”

PANAMA CITY — Without more donations, the pantry at the Panama City Rescue Mission could be bare in two weeks.

“We’ve got about two weeks until we run out of fruits and vegetables,” said communications manager Abby Stokes.

There are donations of other foods, including deliveries of baked goods from restaurants, but “all of the things that hold nutrition to keep our guests going are running out,” she said.

The mission typically sees a big increase in donations around Thanksgiving and Christmas, but this year donations decreased by 12 percent over the same period the year before.

While donations are down, demands for service have increased by about 30 percent, she said.

“The needs continue to rise,” the Rev. Billy Fox, executive director of the mission, said in a news release. “Two people per day sign in new to the mission. Meals are steady and well over 700 per day. Coupled with a low donation in food and funding at the holidays, we face some challenging times.”

Stokes said the decrease is uncharacteristic because donations have grown steadily each year through the recession and oil spill. She said she’s not sure what led to the decrease but it could be from negative attention on the mission from people unhappy with its location.

“The fact is people are still hungry,” she said. “They still need food.”

She said it’s not the first time the mission has been low on food.

“The Lord has always been faithful to pull us through it,” she said

Read more: http://www.newsherald.com/articles/mission-100136-panama-rescue.html#ixzz1lHytNe2S

Reality has hit the management at the rescue mission….almost. The reason the organizations donations are down, the reason the facility is running low on food is not because of “negative attention”, it is because of “negative behavior” by the rescue mission themselves. The management at the rescue still fail to connect the dots (although one could argue that this is intentional) that any loss of donations or tightening of operational assets is in direct correlation to their bad behavior. The mission has built a multi-million dollar industry on the backs of  the homeless and the naive community that has supported them financially. As the facility has grown larger, the impact of their facility has become more and more damaging to neighboring property owners, downtown businesses and the community at large. As this negative impact has increased several fold, complaints about the rescue to local government were largely brushed under the carpet for years and the rescue themselves thumbed their nose at the very community who he would then turn around and ask for donations from. Mayor Brudnicki has had the courage to expose the problems of vagrancy downtown and call out the source of  those problems which is the rescue mission. When Billy Fox comments in this article that “the needs continues to rise”, it shows he continues to play his “games”. The city recently had a nationally know advocate and expert on the homeless study our downtown and characterized the problem as “off the charts”. Mr. Fox needs to read the writing on the wall and recognize that his game is over. The community will no longer just stand by and let the rescue mission tarnish our downtown by bringing in thousands of vagrants, transients and panhandlers just so he can maintain ever increasing numbers of “persons served” to justify higher dollar grants and donations.

We encourage the community to help those in need. Take the time to learn about your charitable organization, the nature of their operations and how they use your money before donating. Please consider the following organizations:

* Anchorage Childrens home

* Salvation Army

* Catholic Charities