GDOT Sends Bulldozers for 40 Homeless Camping Under I-75/85 and I-20
(APN) ATLANTA — On Tuesday, January 14, 2014, the Georgia Department of Transportation (GDOT) sent out two bulldozers to the underpass of I-75/85 and I-20 in order to eliminate around ten to twelve camping tents occupied by homeless individuals.
Atlanta Progressive News reader, and former candidate for Atlanta City Council Post 2-at-large, Weslee Knapp, observed the incident and provided photographs to APN.
“I been driving past there for the last six months,” Rick Saddler of Christ’s Messengers Christian Fellowship Church in Snellville, Georgia, told APN.
“There were about three to four tents at that time. When I drove past last Friday, there were almost a dozen tents. I went by there on Saturday to drop off blankets and snacks; I asked one of the individuals down there, ‘How many people are here?,’ as it was daytime, most of the folks that stayed in that area were out trying to get food and supplies for the night. It’s been really cold. He said there were about forty people that made camp off the freeway ramp,” Saddler said.
“I went back on Sunday to drop off more blankets. On Monday, a woman who had a cell phone called me to tell me that on Tuesday GDOT said they would be there to bulldoze the tents and debris from the area. Sure enough, the bulldozers came through and bulldozed all of their possessions. Their tents, their blankets, their supplies, everything. It was heartbreaking,” Saddler said.
According to Saddler, the individuals seeking refuge under the overpass were told by the GDOT workers that “there were too many tents.”
“It seemed like the workers were genuinely upset about what they had to do, but they did it anyway,” he said.
On Wednesday, Saddler and other church members dropped off as many blankets as he had in his car.
“I’ve got some to drop off today in my trunk,” Saddler mused. “What are these people going to do now with no shelter? No supplies or blankets to keep warm?”
“There’s got to be something better for these folks. Fulton County and the City of Atlanta have to have shelters and transitional housing… don’t they?” he asked.
As previously reported by APN, there is inadequate shelter and inadequate affordable housing in Atlanta.
“We certainly empathize with these individuals, but we cannot allow anyone to live or camp in freeway rights-of-way as it poses a potential safety hazard to both the individuals involved and passing motorists. We regularly work with the City of Atlanta, Georgia State Patrol, and various homeless shelters in order to safely relocate them and help them find a place to stay that is safer than adjacent to high-speed roadways. This is policy,” Mark McKinnon, GDOT spokesperson, said in a statement.