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AubieTurtle

Dumping the homeless

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Everyone's heard the rumors before... other cities dump their homeless on Atlanta... that Atlanta dumped them on Savannah during the Olympics, etc. But I was totally unprepared for what I saw today. When I walked to the Civic Center MARTA station to go to work, I came across two full length school buses that had been painted completely white. Both were offloading scruffy looking individuals, several of who panhandled me. They couldn't have been off the bus for more than maybe a couple of minutes (I'm guessing based on the fact that people were still be off loaded) and they were already hitting people up for money. It was almost like a panhandling mob and reminded me of scenes from a third world country. There were no markings on the buses that identified the name of the government or organization that owned the buses. There was one person who looked like she was in charge who was handing a white sheet of paper to each of them as they got off the bus but I have no idea what it said. I should have gone up to her and asked what the heck they thought they were doing or at least written down the license plates from the buses but I was running late for work and it didn't enter my mind to do so since I was more concerned about getting into the station before the next train going north arrived.

It was just so weird. In the years I've lived downtown, I have from time to time seen white unmarked econoline vans like the type used in vanpools pull up and drop off the obviously homeless but that's normally only four or five people at a time and it isn't an every day thing (well, it might be but I've only seen it a couple of times), but two entire full length buses!?!?!? A couple of years ago the city solicitor was at the neighborhood meeting and he told me that they hear a lot from homeless that get arrested that they've been dropped off in Atlanta by law enforcement in other cities and I have to wonder why this doesn't get more publicity. Maybe there a gentlemens agreement amongst the cities or law enforcement agencies or perhaps no one has caught them in the act. I can't think of any law they would be breaking so maybe that's why if doesn't get much attention.

I know some of the shelters advertise across the state and sometime the region by having fliers handed out to the homeless in other cities to try to get them to come here to use the shelters here so as I pondered what I saw at work, I thought maybe it was one of the shelters behind the buses but if that's the case, why wouldn't they just bring the homeless straight to the shelter? Why drop them off at Civic Center? Even if it was the nutcases at Peachtree-Pine, that's still at least four blocks away. It's so very weird and I'd like to know just how much of this is going on. I've always suspect that it was going on in small scale kind of ways, like a suburban church giving a homeless family a ride downtown because their city doesn't have a shelter but entire buses... it just boggles the mind that this is going on and that at least this time it was so blatant and large scale.

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The problem is, who would I ask? If I go grocery shopping tomorrow, I'll peek in the trash cans around the station on my way to the store and see if any of the papers that were being handed out are there. Perhaps that would give a clue as to what is going on.

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Let me know if you find anything. This is something I'd be interested in asking Kwanza Hall about.

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Yes, please let us know if you find out anything, Aubie. I've heard rumors about this for years.

:(

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I didn't find any of the papers in the trash today, but then again, poking through the trash isn't really my thing so I only peeked in a couple of cans at what was on top. However, there were at least four homeless guys hanging out down in the station, including one who was sleeping in the middle of the floor. It's pretty rare that I ever see the homeless actually in the station, and on the rare occasion that it does happen, it's in the very early morning after a cold night and they're hiding out of the way. I'm guessing the guys who were hanging out were left overs from yesterday's mass drop off. At least none of them panhandled me. I was worried that was going to happen on my way back from the grocery store since I was pushing a cart full of groceries and because I bought more than usual, the top of the cart couldn't be closed to hide the contents. But there was only one guy that I saw on the southbound platform and I got to the escalator before he noticed me. It is interesting that there were more guys hanging out on the northbound platform since that's the side of the station that they were dropped off on. If they can't get motivated enough to even walk through the tunnel to the other platform, much less leave the station, there isn't much hope that they'll get their lives together.

Anyway, since apparently this dumping is going on, be a bit more aware of your surroundings. While most homeless are harmless, you just never know.

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I was in Atlanta a couple of weeks ago. My impression was that downtown seemed to have less homeless people than in years past. I was only panhandled once, and even then the guy was doing it without much conviction. A friend of mine's wife, however, was staying at the Swissotel in Buckhead when she and her friend were badgered by a group of homeless people right outside the Palm restaurant. It was a very scary experience for them.

I seem to recall a few years ago that Jacksonville, Florida was busing homeless people to Atlanta for their Super Bowl.

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It could be they were being dropped off to "work". Panhandling is a well paying job when done full time, as much as lower middle class jobs pay. These panhandlers could have been dropped off by someone similar to a pimp that takes a cut, so this may have been a private "venture". All completely legal I am guessing.

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It could be they were being dropped off to "work". Panhandling is a well paying job when done full time, as much as lower middle class jobs pay. These panhandlers could have been dropped off by someone similar to a pimp that takes a cut, so this may have been a private "venture". All completely legal I am guessing.

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I've seen homeless in Atlanta many times, and I 've only been panhandled once. The guy had some BS reason as to why he was homeless, but he helped me find the place I was trying to get to, so I felt that was more deserving of some change than just expecting a handout for sitting there. I'm always willing to help someone out if they are willing to work for it in some way.

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I remember when I visited the APEX Museum on Auburn Avenue last year and this dude (not sure if he was homeless, but he was a bit scruffy looking) told me not to park where I parked because I might get towed; he said it would be better to park on the street in front of the museum, which I did. I thanked him, and he said something to the effect of, "It would be nice if you gave me something since I helped you out." Needless to say, I did oblige by giving him a few dollars, LOL.

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This goes on all over the place. Hospitals will buy homeless people tickets out of town if they keep coming in and tying up their resources (they won't admit it, but I've been told that by people who work at hospitals in my town and ATL was mentioned as a place they bought people tickets for.) Homeless people are sometimes practically "kidnapped" and sent to places they don't want to go. Don't know if it's that severe with what's going on in ATL, but hospitals in L.A. have been accused of "kidnapping" people and dumping them on Skid Row when they wanted to go elsewhere.

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