Like many major cities, Atlanta direly needs more resources for the homeless, especially now that temperatures are dropping and Super Bowl LIII is on the horizon.
Traditionally, much of the city’s homeless population flocked to places like the Peachtree-Pine homeless shelter or Central Atlanta Library when trying to escape the elements or search for help or jobs.
The former shuttered in 2017 and the latter is currently closed while undergoing a $50 million renovation, which means, this year, hundreds of unsheltered people are scrambling to find new options.
However, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Fanplex, a failed arcade and mini-golf course near the Atlanta Braves’s former ballpark, could soon be transformed into a homeless advocacy center.
The short-lived Fanplex closed in 2004, just two years after debuting as pre- or post-game entertainment option.
The 11,000-square-foot space at the corner of Hank Aaron and Bill Lucas drives wouldn’t be used to house the homeless overnight, and wouldn’t include beds, according to the paper.
Rather, it would serve as a harm reduction center that directs people toward mental health assistance, housing, and other resources.
Advocates for the homeless in Atlanta told the AJC that, without a place like this—and ideally more shelter space—more indigent people are liable to be arrested around Super Bowl time for violating the city’s “quality of life” statutes.
Quality of life ordinances cover infractions such as spitting, jaywalking, or urinating in public. Studies have found they’re disproportionately used to charge the impoverished and people of color.
It’s uncertain if Fanplex could be converted into a homeless center before the Big Game, since another entity has reportedly rented the facility for early February.
If homeless advocates can find a new venue for the group that reserved the space, however, the failed entertainment venue could soon be reborn as a permanent outreach center.