(APN) ATLANTA Homeless advocates are planning a fabulous redesign of the Peachtree and Pine Homeless Shelter into a major community hub, where the homeless will eventually run a coffee shop, restaurant, market, art studio, and rooftop garden, to enhance downtown culture and provide themselves a way out of poverty.
Everyone at the Metro Atlanta Task Force for the Homeless, which runs the Shelter, is excited about all the possibilities for the future. Currently a lot of space there is simply not being utilized.
"We're trying to create a neighborhood right on the corner, something excellent, cool, attractive, and fun," Anita Beaty, 64, Executive Director of the Task Force, said.
Beaty is like Atlanta's Godmother of the homeless, having led campaigns against Mayor Franklin's panhandling ban and the city's mass eviction of the homeless during the Olympics. She formerly served as the President of the Board of the National Coalition for the Homeless.
But she wants to do more than serve the homeless. She wants to empower them to create a better community for everyone. It is this philosophy that makes the Task Force's vision so special and important.
In drafting the current Master Plan, staff members at the Task Force asked residents "What would make their hearts sing?" Beaty told Atlanta Progressive News.
The Task Force, founded in 1981, is implementing its Master Plan to redesign the organization's 95,000 square foot headquarters on Peachtree and Pine Streets.
The Task Force will roll out a coffee shop and commercial kitchen this Fall, both of which will serve as examples of what can be done when people come together for the common good.
The commercial kitchen and cafe', located in the rear of the Task Force, can serve nearly 600 people and are nearing completion.
The new kitchen and cafe' will not be a soup kitchen, but a place where the homeless and residents in the community can come together and have a meal, Beaty told Atlanta Progressive News.
The Cathedral of St. Phillips on Peachtree Street donated $30,000 to purchase tables and chairs for the cafe', Jules Dykes, Development Director for the Task Force, said.
There is also the possibility a catering service will be run from the kitchen and Beaty wants the kitchen to be run by residents.
The bottom floor of the building contains empty retail space that the Task Force will utilize. "Blend," a coffee shop currently under construction, will take advantage of that space. Many people working to complete the coffee shop are doing so pro bono or at a discounted rate.
Blend will help the homeless by providing job opportunities and will provide a place for people in the community to relax and share ideas. Snacks and treats produced in the kitchen will be sold at the new coffee shop.
For several years, homeless artists have been using the empty space where Blend will be to paint. One homeless client of the Task Force can be found creating beautiful masterpieces each day of the week with paint on canvas, and he has been doing so for several months. The artist declined an interview request for this story.