“Atlanta health and housing nonprofit Living Room, which has worked to end homelessness for people living with HIV for more than 20 years, will soon be releasing a pocket-size resource book for the city’s homeless.
The tiny Atlanta Homeless Resource Guide, created using research from Georgia State University’s Atlanta Youth Count, is 140 pages front-and-back and features information on housing, food, legal services, employment, domestic violence, evictions, resources for veterans and much more.
“We’re talking about people who don’t have access to computers and potentially cell phones,” Gregory McKelvey, director of communications and advocacy at Living Room, told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “This you can put right in your pocket and find everything you need.”
The new pocketbook was inspired by Portland’s Street Roots, a weekly publication dedicated to creating income opportunities for those experiencing homelessness and poverty. Street Roots prints its own 104-page mini resource guide packed with a comprehensive list of services. According to its website, more than 200,000 Street Roots Rose City Resource guides are published annually and distributed to over 500 local businesses.
According to 26-year-old McKelvey, who hails from Portland and brought the idea to Living Room last year, the team is waiting to hear from local businesses interested in including coupons in the pocketbook before printing. So far, the guide features coupons for a free tent plus a discount on local eats and spa services.
Initially, the plan was to print 2,000 copies in June, but Living Room is now looking to print around 5,000 to 10,000 books.
When the guides are released, Living Room will also be publishing a public digital template with step-by-step instructions on how to replicate the resource guide in cities all over the world.
According to Atlanta’s 2018 “Point in Time Count,” Atlanta’s homeless population was 3,076 in January—a 14% drop from 2017. In fact, the official count has dropped 29% since 2015, The AJC previously reported. But advocates say the city’s shelters are still packed to capacity and continue to turn people away daily. They also say families are often not included in official Census counts.
“The seeming exactitude of that number — 3,076 — belies the difficulty of measuring a population adept at melting away at the margins,” AJC’s Bill Torpy wrote in a January column.”