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Cobb County teases the idea of a ‘homeless camp’ in budget proposal

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Local leaders looked to a tent city in Florida for a model of how to shelter the less-fortunate

A docile community mirroring this one is forthcoming in Marietta, with its detachment from urban ills being a selling point.
A docile community mirroring this one is forthcoming in Marietta, with its detachment from urban ills being a selling point.
Courtesy of Brock Built Homes

Cobb County is showing signs of drastic urbanization—and the challenges that come with it.

On the development front, blueprints for the county’s tallest-ever tower are getting even taller, as the Atlanta Journal-Constitution pointed out this week, by way of the Marietta Daily Journal.

County commissioners on Tuesday gave the OK to a request by BRED Co (Braves Real Estate Development) to boost the building height cap on one of its parcels from 300 feet to 420 feet. (Cobb’s tallest building stands at 362 feet now.)

The impacted land is one of a few undeveloped parcels at The Battery, the Atlanta Braves’s mixed-use community near SunTrust Park.

But the county isn’t just getting taller and more active; it’s inviting other litmus tests of urbanization, such as the issue of dealing with mounting homelessness.

Michael Murphy, an assistant to Cobb Chairman Mike Boyce, told the Marietta Daily Journal on Monday that his boss had squeezed plans to fund a homeless camp into a draft of the next fiscal year’s budget.

How much money would go toward the shelter initiative, and who would run it, is still uncertain, but Murphy said the program is aiming to offer at least 50 beds to indigent people. Murphy also said “the facility was not intended for addicts,” the paper added.

The idea for the encampment, Murphy said, came after he, Commissioner Lisa Cupid, and County Manager Rob Hosack visited a homeless camp in Pinellas County, Florida, near Tampa.

Called “Pinellas Hope,” the place is something of a tent city, decked out with 160 tents, 156 apartments, and 72 “Hope Cottages”—repurposed shipping containers, some of which are used to provide medical assistance to patrons, according to the Tampa Bay Times.

Murphy said what Cobb County is aiming for would be less of a tent city—largely due to “the Atlanta heat”—but would still offer food, temporary housing, and medical help. Visitors, he added, would likely be able to stay there for around 90 days while they try to get back on their feet.

If it were up to Murphy, MDJ reports, the shelter would be open this coming winter. Multiple homeless people froze to death in Atlanta last winter.

Cobb’s budget proposal will be voted on Wednesday.

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