Atlanta Airport Used As Shelter For Hundreds Of Houseless People Nightly

Atlanta's airport must remedy a growing population of unhoused individuals taking shelter inside the facility.

As winter weather makes its way across the United States, housing advocates in Atlanta are spreading awareness on those who use Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport as shelter on a nightly basis. The advocates revealed that nearly 200 unhoused people use the Atlanta airport for a warm place to sleep.

To rectify the issue, the Atlanta City Council has passed a resolution to provide better shelter for its homeless population who routinely sleep at the airport. Those seeking shelter typically sleep inside the atrium and the domestic terminal, according to WSB-TV.

Many find their way to the airport at night due to MARTA, the city’s transit system, stopping directly inside the airport after its final stops for the evening.

“The [MARTA] train stops at about 1:20 in the morning, and after that time, about three to four trains roll into the airport that are not exiting the airport, and these trains are filled with the homeless population,” shared Keith Hardrick to the news outlet.

The council passed a resolution on Dec. 4 for airport officials to develop a plan of services to combat this rising concern, mainly for creating better shelter support for unhoused individuals. Alongside this request, the council has dedicated up to $500,000 to coordinate a program, suggesting they partner with a service provider for “emergency procurement” to address the issue.

The resolution also includes a request that some areas within the airport become public domain and not solely for travelers. Officials have yet to respond to that suggestion, releasing a statement about “appropriate alternatives” for those unhoused seeking shelter in the space.

“ATL’s top priority is to provide a safe, secure, and efficient experience for the passengers and employees who utilize the facility every day. We continue to work with our partners to address any issues of people experiencing homelessness seeking shelter at ATL. The Airport will direct those needing aid to appropriate alternatives and wrapround services while maintaining operations at the world’s busiest airport.”

The airport must respond formally to the council’s resolution and provide a plan of action within 30 days of its passing.

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