Thursday, February 2, 2012

Task Force for Homeless court hearing on Friday…finally

Posted By on Thu, Feb 2, 2012 at 6:27 PM

You know what I love about tomorrow? It's always a day away. At least, that's how the Peachtree-Pine homeless shelter legal imbroglio has often felt — as if a potential resolution kept getting delayed, pushed back and postponed ad nauseum. I mean, this case has dragged on since mid-2010.

And yet I was told just minutes ago by one of the attorneys involved that the long-anticipated and, one can only hope, final, hearing will, indeed, take place tomorrow at 2 p.m. in Fulton County Superior Court. Get there early, as the room may already be Occupied.

For those who haven't followed the tortuous progress of this case, here's the briefest of recaps: In May 2010, a newly formed nonprofit called Ichthus Community Trust bought two outstanding liens totaling $900,000 for the ginormous shelter at the corner of Peachtree and Pine. Ichthus then foreclosed, prompting a lawsuit by the Metro Task Force for the Homeless, which has operated the shelter since 1997. The suit also named Central Atlanta Progress as a defendant, claiming it had conspired with city officials and other groups to illegally wrest the property away from the Task Force. The Task Force also filed suit in federal court against the city, making many of the same claims, but the case was tossed out this past September.

Even though — or more likely because — things don't seem to be going their way, the Task Force lawyers have spent the past month deposing everybody in sight, including representatives of Ichthus, the city-owned Gateway homeless center, the United Way Regional Commission on Homelessness and scads of others. We'll see how that works out for them.

Oh, did I mention that the Task Force owes about $300,000 in overdue water bills or that it hasn't paid rent to its new landlords? I've also been told it hasn't paid its gas or electric bills in recent months, but I guess such worldly concerns don't matter when you've got God on your side.

Or do they? Not only did Task Force principals Anita and Jim Beaty long ago wear out the patience of the surrounding neighborhood, the local business community, other social service providers, and the judge hearing their case(!), but they've also been badmouthed from inside the religious community.

In a sermon given a year ago, Rev. Geoffrey Hoare, rector of All Saints Episcopal Church, located a few blocks from Peachtree-Pine, described the place thusly:

The shelter is operated by something called the Task Force for the Homeless. They haven’t paid their bills recently. Conditions inside by all accounts are quite squalid. The building’s new owners want to evict not the four or five hundred homeless people who stay there, but the management. They want to put in a group who will help the residents move off the streets and into safe and secure and more stable homes.

The rev is right; that about sums things up. We should get some closure tomorrow, tomorrow…

BTW, as a bonus, the Beatys have been posting nightly head counts for the homeless staying at the shelter, something they've never done before. While we'd like to see an independent audit, the reported numbers are still interesting:

• Jan. 28 — 521 men and 2 women
• Jan. 27 — 554 men and 3 women
• Jan. 26 — 557 men, 5 women and 2 children
• Jan. 25 — 651 men, 4 women with 2 children
• Jan. 24 — 632 men and 7 women

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