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Advocates plan protest to demand more warming shelters in DeKalb County

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Advocates plan protest to demand more warming shelters in DeKalb County

Arriving before the 8 p.m. opening time and unable to stand any longer, Greg Brittain sits on the ground while he waits to spend the night in the warming center at DeKalb County Fire Station No. 3 in Avondale Estates on Thursday, Jan. 6, 2022. Photo by Dean Hesse.

Decatur, GA — Advocates for the homeless are continuing their campaign for more warming shelters and services in DeKalb County.

According to a press release, an interfaith group of local clergy, the Coalitions for Diverse Decatur/DeKalb, Beacon Hill Black Alliance for Human Rights, the Justice for All Coalition, and A Home For Everyone In DeKalb will hold a street corner protest at Commerce and Trinity in downtown Decatur on Wednesday, Feb. 9 from 4 to 6 p.m.

The advocates demand “immediate improvement” of services for unhoused residents provided by DeKalb County. There will also be a supply drive for hand warmers, blankets and socks.

The group notes that DeKalb County didn’t open warming centers until activists put pressure on county officials. None of those centers are located north of Avondale Estates.

Dr. Lisa Heilig, a reverend an advocate for the homeless in Toco Hills, said, “It feels like they don’t care because we’re in another part of the county. Do we not count?”

Advocates want warming centers in the north and central parts of the county, with food water and cots.

Other demands include:

– More notice of the opening of centers

– Transportation to and from the centers

– Plans to ensure the people using the centers can find shelter

The group wants the county to help the more than 300 people on a waiting list for a permanent shelter.

“While warming centers are the most immediate need for our unhoused neighbors, it is only through systemic change – putting human need ahead of property and profit – that we will fully address the issue,” said Dr. Sara Patenaude, chair of the Coalition for a Diverse DeKalb. “Homelessness is at its core a housing problem and as the affordable housing in DeKalb County continues to shrink, it is a problem that will only get worse.”

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