Last time it was the water bill. This time it's the mortgage.
The city's largest homeless shelter is again in danger of being ousted from its longtime home just in time for the holidays.
The Metro Atlanta Task Force for the Homeless faces foreclosure actions brought by two separate lenders against the enormous old building it occupies at the corner of Peachtree and Pine streets. Barring some intervention, the former automotive parts warehouse is scheduled to be auctioned off on the courthouse steps Dec. 1.
The two delinquent mortgage loans are held by private charities that specialize in low-income housing: the Mercy Loan Fund, the lending arm of Denver-based Mercy Housing; and the Institute for Community Economics, which is affiliated with the National Housing Trust of Washington, D.C.
Public records state that the Task Force owes Mercy about $300,000, but Mercy spokeswoman Sandy Maben says the amount is somewhat less than that. The lender had filed for foreclosure in August, only to give the shelter a few more months. But now Mercy appears to have run out of patience.
"We've been working with the Task Force for a couple of years now and have explored different scenarios," Maben says. "We'd love to be able to continue our mission here, but at some point we just need to get the loan repaid."
The Task Force owes another $600,000 on a loan held by the Institute for Community Economics, according to public records.
Contacted Friday, Anita Beaty, the Task Force's executive director, declined to say how her group planned to respond to its latest crisis, but announced, with some confidence: "We don't expect it to go into foreclosure."
She's probably right, if only because the total of both mortgages is far less than the property is worth. The 100,000-square-foot building, which boasts impressive Peachtree Street frontage, is currently on the market for about $5 million. The looming foreclosure date could do much to spur an offer on the property.
Alternatively, the Wardlaw family, which has long supported Beaty's efforts, could step in with cash to protect its own investment in the property, which is reputedly in the neighborhood of $2 million to $3 million.
Meanwhile, the Task Force awaits on a hearing date in its federal lawsuit alleging a conspiracy between City Hall and Central Atlanta Progress to shut the shelter down; and it continues to meet a court order to pay its monthly water bill in order to avoid having its water turned off. The next payment, for $6,000, is due Nov. 30.
(Photo by Joeff Davis)
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