30,000 Storm Atlanta Parking Lot To Get Public Housing Apps

The last time public housing rosters were opened up, the city got 2,400 apps. This time, they thought maybe 10,000 would show up. Instead, an estimated 30,000 people descended on an Atlanta parking lot last week so they could pick up an application for public housing. 60 had to be taken to the hospital after fights or just from heat exhaustion. It was 90-100 degrees. And this is just to get on a waiting list. To get an actual voucher can take 8-10 more years.

Judging by the video, city officials elected to distribute the applications by standing on top of a car and handing them out one by one to the hundreds of grabbing hands that surrounded them.

Logistics fail. Why not set up a series of distribution points around the city?

MORE: Crowds Chase Scarce Housing Vouchers [WSJ]

Comments

Edit Your Comment

  1. Anathema777 says:

    They couldn’t put the applications online?

    • TuxthePenguin says:

      Many of the applicants might not have reliable internet access.

      • White Crosses says:

        Don’t public libraries offer free internet access? Mine does, but I understand this may not be the case everywhere.

      • Bob Lu says:

        That’s what am think.

        But do they “also” ave the application form online? if they do, is it suggesting that actually more, A LOT MORE, people are trying to apply for the public housing?

      • Etoiles says:

        True, although nearly every public library in this day and age provides it.

        • JulesNoctambule says:

          And every public library is easily accessible, and you don’t have to have a library card to use the internet, and there’s no wait, and the library has very long hours of operation. . .right?

          • Etoiles says:

            No, which is a good reason not to abandon the paper form entirely. But many civic systems aren’t yet caught up with the 1990s as far as tech, let alone 2010. It would be preferable if they could do both.

          • TehLlama says:

            It seems comparably inconvenient to wade through 29,999 people just to pick up a paper application, and those were the ones who managed to make it out that day.
            Sorry, but my pity meter just keeps bouncing off empty.

      • Anathema777 says:

        But putting it online, as well as having distribution centers, could have at least lessened the number of people who showed up. They mentioned in the article that they put the Chicago application online, but it doesn’t say why Atlanta didn’t.

        • Kitamura says:

          But that’s the thing, they anticipated an UPPER limit of about 10k people to show up. They got 3 times what they though would be the maximum number of applicants, and 12 times the number of people who showed up previously.

          Now, there’s no real reason not to have the form available online unless they’re simply trying to limit access (ie, not get people from other regions trolling for housing), but I can see how they might see it as a way to try and limit numbers. If you have to go to them to get the form, you’ll probably only get people who are serious about it.

      • Marlin says:

        Sorry, but there are plenty of librarys and other outlets for getting on the web. So I agree it should have also been online if it was not.
        I be willing to bet many people there had phones that have web access.

      • Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

        The Public Library.

        • pecan 3.14159265 says:

          It’s callous to say but I’ll say it anyway. You’re that poor and you are desperate for help – it would’ve been better to put it online and let people figure out how to be resourceful.

          • myCatCracksMeUp says:

            Yes it’s callous.

            How can otherwise reasonably intelligent people just not get that some people are less intelligent and less able, and have some empathy for them?

            • pantheonoutcast says:

              All 30,000 people in that video are less intelligent and / or less able? Or are they the opposite – savvy and capable of taking advantage of a system designed to help legitimately needy people?

              • sonneillon says:

                It is Atlanta, which is not exactly known for savvy. I mean the city officials were handing them out from the top of a car, and chances are this is what the best and brightest of the city could come up with.

        • ARP says:

          Do you think the public libraries where these people live have plenty of reliable internet access? They’re poor and so the public services in their community might not be that great (see also schools, public parks and just about everything else).

        • Gtmac says:

          ~30,000 Storm Atlanta Public Libraries To Get Public Housing Apps

          Yeah, that headline is so much better.

      • TuxthePenguin says:

        Look, I agree that there are places that they can get internet access (ie, public libraries) but I also know that many can’t or won’t get there to use them. If anything, we’re just weeding out some by doing that.

        Whether that is a good thing or not is debatable.

    • chaesar says:

      or maybe make them available at post offices, like they do with tax forms

    • jessjj347 says:

      I agree. We’re not even talking about the actual interview or whatever is part of the process for this. It’s just a waiting list.

    • Pax says:

      No.

      Applying for public housing requires you to provide proofs thatyou qualify – that means actual, hardcopy documents.

      Proof of income, proof of current expenses (especially rent and utilities), probably proof of disability.

      Also, proof that you are resident of THAT city, and not the surrounding towns, or even a city halfway across the state. (“Locals” get clear priority over “non-locals”.)

      All of which must be presented in the form of _ORIGINAL_ documents, which the intake worker must photocopy for the housing department’s records. And that simply can’t be done online.

      • badachie says:

        But most of that basic information can be completed online. An appointment with a caseworker to complete the file is quick and painless.

      • Anathema777 says:

        But the people in this article were just picking up an application, not going through the full application process. They were literally just handing them a piece of paper. If you had a printable form online in addition to a physical pick-up point, it seems it would be more efficient.

        The article even mentions that Chicago has an online form. I’m just wondering why Atlanta does not.

      • spamtasticus says:

        How do you “Prove” lack of income?
        How do you “Prove” lack of current expenses?
        How do you “Prove” where you reside if you are homeless?

        On a totally unrelated note. All these years I have been responsible for my own fate and working to further it when there are parking lots where they give out free houses? Boy am I a moron!

        • pantheonoutcast says:

          Conveniently, it’s the same parking lots where you can sometimes pick up a good deal on a slightly used baby (from the same group of people).

        • Julia789 says:

          It’s *usually* not free, but discounted housing in city or state owned properties. And you probably wouldn’t want to live there even if you could. Places where the sinks have been ripped out and sold by previous tenants, prostitutes are passed out in hallways with needles in their arms, electricity flickering on and off, frequent break-ins and shootings, and crack vials scattered around. I know homeless people at the local soup kitchen who would rather sleep under the bridge than live in subsidized housing.

        • Pax says:

          >>> How do you “Prove” lack of income?
          Well, you can’t get public housing, if you have ZERO income. So, you prove that you lack an income *sufficient to obtain standard housing*, and still be able to live reasonably.

          To do that, you bring in pay stubs, or an Award Letter from social security or your state’s “welfare” department. Possibly, bring in an Award Letter for a Food Stamps program.

          >>> How do you “Prove” lack of current expenses?
          Not LACK of expenses – but you have to prove your _actual_ expenses. Bring in your phone bill, electric bill, gas bill, and so on.

          >>> How do you “Prove” where you reside if you are homeless?
          Letter from the shelter you most recently stayed at.

          >>> All these years I have been responsible for my own fate and
          >>> working to further it when there are parking lots where they
          >>> give out free houses? Boy am I a moron!

          Free houses? BWA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA!!!

          Try “An apartment with the absolute minimum number of rooms, of the absolute smallest size possible, to fit you and your family wihtout causing (additional) mental health problems”.

          Also, try “you pay rent equal to a flat % of the combined income of everyone living there”. For me and my partner, it’s 30% of our combined income … NOT “free”.

          As for the “being responsible for one’s self” thing? What, you think everyone there was just a freeloader with their hand out?

          *I* live in publicly-subsidised housing (and receive Social Secuity, and receive Food Stamps). The only reason the local Housing Authority even ALLOWED ME TO APPLY, is because I am legally and permanently disabled – a disability I was BORN with. I would much rather I could work, and pay my own way – much, much, MUCH rather. Then my income might at least have _some_ degree of upward mobility.

          Are there freeloading scum out there? Yes.

          Are they the majority of the people collecting benefits? I SINCERELY doubt it.

          Did you paint with an overly-broad brush? Most certainly!

      • RvLeshrac says:

        If only there was some sort of system where you could hand documents to, or leave them to be picked up by, someone, and have them delivered to another location…

        • Pax says:

          You’re not getting it.

          These documents are often VERY important – the kind you don’t want someone else to have forever, because they may be singular, as in unique, in all the world. So, no, mailing the documents in is not an acceptible alternative. The agency typically takes _photocopies_. However, the agency has to have the _ORIGINAL_ documents for immediate review, first.

          Hence why one generally brings them in, IN PERSON.

          • DewBerry says:

            YOU’RE not getting it.

            These applications are being handed to the crowd.

            Nobody is submitting their documentation at this point.

            • Pax says:

              … and, as other posters who live within half a mile of the location pointed out, INSIDE the building, there were Housing Authority employees PROCESSING those applications.

              Just because you’re handed a form outside, doesn’t mean you don’t still need to sit down with someone and provide XYZ documents AFTER filling that form out.

              Listen … seriously: I HAVE GONE THROUGH THAT VERY PROCESS BEFORE. In fact, I’m living in a federally-subsidised apartment, courtesy of _my_ city’s Housing authority, right this very instant.

              For this subject, my first-hand experience trumps your third-hand-at-best experience.

    • DewBerry says:

      Yes

      This is just a form they are handing out.

      If it was online most of this crowd could have printed it out at home or at their local library.

  2. womynist says:

    I work with homeless and low-income individuals and families, and where I live we also have an 8 year waiting list for Public Housing and the Section 8 program. After all my years in the field, I still can’t figure out how some of these folks can’t turn their lives around in 8 years.

    Sure, there will always be some people who really need these programs, but I think a large portion of them could make some changes so they won’t need the assistance when their name gets to the top of the list in 2018.

    • XTC46 says:

      I grew up not having a lot of money. My mom, my sister and I lived in a lot of crappy neighborhoods. One thing that was common? In every single crappy neighborhood, atleast 2/3 of the people were lazy and just didnt want to work. It had nothing to do with a legit problem. They collected welfare, bought gold chains and nice cars, and complained about how hard life was.

      My mom worked her ass off to get us out of that mess, and I work my ass off every single day to make sure I never end up in any kind of state funded welfare program. Even at our worst of time, my mom didnt take state assistance, becasue she knew there were people who really needed it, even if the majority of people taking it dont.

      • tbax929 says:

        I agree. My folks had okay jobs, but they also had 5 kids. So we always lived paycheck to paycheck in not-so-great areas. Anyway, my mom was leaving for work one day, and one of our never-been-employed neighbors had the audacity to ask her where she goes everyday all dressed up. Needless to say, my mother went off on him. It bothered her that people who could work stayed home and collected a check, but I think the system is set up so that for a lot of people they make more at home sitting on their asses.

        Disclaimer: this is not directed toward people who are legitimately trying to find work or unable to work due to a disability.

        • pecan 3.14159265 says:

          My parents are the hardest working people I know. They’re an example to me that you are responsible for your success and failure. I think kids need parents who teach them the merits of work, and not just to make money, but because people should desire to contribute to society in a meaningful way.

        • Pax says:

          Thank you for the disclaimer. Too many people who are (legitimately) upset by freeloaders, decide to lump EVERYONE receiving benefits into one mass target, and then open up with everything in the arsenal.

          • TehLlama says:

            I agree, there are plenty of people who completely and legitimately have no means of improving their situation. THESE ARE THE PEOPLE MOST HURT BY THE FREELOADERS. Poorly overseen welfare programs necessarily exist in bureaucratically managed welfare systems, and will inevitably end up attracting the worthless moochers in greater numbers than those who truly need the assistance.

      • womynist says:

        Good for your mom for doing what she had to do to take care of the family. I see the laziness on a daily basis. I can’t tell you how many people come to my agency needing financial help to pay their electric bill to make sure it doesn’t get disconnected, and when I review their monthly budget I see that they are paying $200/month on Comcast cable, or cell phones. Cable and smartphones are a luxury, yet most of these people think they’re entitled to them. The entitlement is sickening, and it’s only getting worse.

        //need to get out of social work before it kills me

        • raydee wandered off on a tangent and got lost says:

          But in a superficial society where material symbols of social status is everything, it does not matter if you live on government assistance, so long as you can maintain the facade of success.

          • ARP says:

            Unfortunately, this. Image and appearance are everything. It doesn’t matter how you get there, as long as you do. So its the worst of both worlds: enitlement plus “I got mine.”

      • Nigerian prince looking for business partner says:

        My family was very poor and I grew up in a seedy trailer park.

        I really don’t think my neighbors were lazy but they made horrible decisions and almost universally had too many kids they could not afford; most of which were out-of-wedlock. Men didn’t understand the implications of being a father and poor women used motherhood as a right-of-passage to being an adult.

        A lot of them worked several low paying jobs. I really can’t say that they were lazy but they definitely lacked any long term planning and were plagued by terrible decision making, which seemed to be encouraged by welfare programs.

      • ARP says:

        A few thoughts:

        1) Welfare/ Public Housing bothers a lot of people on a personal level, because of the laziness/ lack of work ethic issues (and Reagan’s demonization campaign). However, how much of “your” money is also wasted on corruption, pork spending, no-bid contracts, overcharging, insane salaries and bonuses for executives (e.g. TARP, military contractors), outrageous pensions, etc.? My guess is that a lot more is wasted due to this type of failure than welfare recipients. Just because its in the context of some legitmate business doesn’t make it less wrong.

        2) I think we should give people on welfare every opportunity to get off (healthcare, daycare, training, etc.). If they don’t go off within a certain period of time, take them off the dole or require them to work for their benefits. Kids would be become wards of the state if parents were unable to care for them (my guess is that they’re probably not being treated that well anyway). It may end up costing just as much as a traditional welfare program, but would provide strong incentive not to become a generational thing. There should be some amount of shame to be on welfare (not enough to refuse to ask when you need it, but some), and when that disappears (as it has in many communities), there needs to be a change in direction.

        • jessjj347 says:

          People do have to work for their benefits. They have to either get a job or do some sort of job training program. “Welfare” just refers to cash assistance, which very few people qualify for.

    • Rectilinear Propagation says:

      You’re assuming that nothing bad happens to them in the eight years on the waiting list.

      • TuxthePenguin says:

        You can do a lot in eight years to improve your situation.

        Case in point – we had a plumbing problem at our house last week – pipe to the main cracked and the line filled with soil/rocks. Plumber came out and we walked while his apprentice snaked the camera down to see what was down there. He has to search long and hard to find apprentices. He’d like to hire more people, but there aren’t many plumbers out there.

        Now, I’m not saying everyone is cut out to be a plumber, but you can get through most trade schools/apprenticeships in eight years.

        • Guppy06 says:

          Because when you’re poor and mired in debt, obviously the best course of action is to pile some student loans on top of that.

          • womynist says:

            There are lots of grants for low-income and homeless people to go to school that do not have to be paid back.

            • DorsalRootGanglion says:

              Really? Even in this day and age? That sounds incredibly naive. Given that the funding for everything is being stripped, I’d love to see these hypothetical internships.

              If you mean job training, then you should look at some articles on how the training programs are ending with no people getting employed.

              • IMADV8 says:

                They aren’t hypothetical, and they aren’t internships. They are apprenticeships, and they’re pretty much standard for all manner of industries.

          • blag says:

            Apprenticeships are paid on-the-job training experiences. At my company we have a handful for specialized mechanic, painting, drilling and repair work. Sometimes you see the experiences turn lives around, but just as often, the people turn out to be complete screw ups with bad attitudes and no interest in helping themselves.

      • womynist says:

        Do bad things happen to some of these folks in 8 years? Yes.

        Do many of these same folks continue to make the same poor choices, over & over again, that land them in these bad situations? Yes.

        • Rectilinear Propagation says:

          Oh I’m sorry, I mistook you for someone reasonable. I didn’t realize that you think that people are directly and solely responsible for everything bad that happens to them.

          Death or illness in the family? Your own fault!
          Natural disaster destroys your home? Your own fault!
          Victim of violent crime? Your own fault!

          • blag says:

            Since when did it become unreasonable to expect people to bear personal responsibility for their own lives? Is that the exclusive domain of the middle class? Goodness knows, the wealthy are absolved of it, and now, it seems, the poor as well. The urban black community has set a rigid standard that to try to get out and to try to rise above it is to be traitor to your race. They hold themselves down and continue to mire themselves in very poor choices. They’re not beaten dogs. They have big human brains like the rest of us. To absolve them of responsibility is to say they are no more than dogs resigned to their fate.

          • coren says:

            Come on now, that’s not what they said.

            Not every single person who’s on these lists is going to have a (or several) debilitating events happen tot he point where they still need help 8 years later. Some of them make shitty choices (and sometimes those shitty choices lead to the debilitating events). Some people legitimately can’t get back on their feet. But having worked int his area before myself – it’s not the majority, not by a longshot.

            • Dover says:

              I agree. I personally know two families who have compounded their poor situations and negative events with really bad decisions. It’s unfortunate to grow up in a poor situation; it’s sad when an exterior (not their fault) event causes a major setback; it’s stupid to [waste money/not seek work/not seek better work/do drugs/etc.] and blame your situation on past troubles and setbacks.

    • Clyde Barrow says:

      Many of the folk are generational assistance-type families. They will never turn their lives around.

    • marsneedsrabbits says:

      A lady and her 3 kids moved into a house in our neighborhood a couple of years ago. The rent was paid by Section 8. She told me shortly after they moved in that she’d been waiting for a placement for over 6 years.

      Shortly after she moved in, she moving her boyfriend in (he had a drug problem & all of the issues which came with it). That was apparently against the Section 8 rules. During this time she also decided that having a pit bull was a good idea. Unfortunately, it was against the rules of our community. The fact that she allowed it to run loose was against the rules as well and got the home-owner fined.

      She was evicted shortly thereafter. She’d waited six *years* to get her house and lost it due to her own actions at around the 10-month mark. I still don’t understand it. She was aware of the rules, but apparently didn’t care or didn’t think they’d apply to her.

    • mandy_Reeves says:

      Do they weed out individuals every so often who may not need to be on the list anymore? If this was done, perhaps the wait list could be significantly shortened.

      Was this just for the city of Atlanta? or for the whole state of Georgia…that is an awful lot of folks needing assistance.

      I did work training and got my medical billing and coding degree, but the economy tanked the month I graduated. August 2008

      Just got a work at home job I love, and hubbs is most likely joining Air National Guard, so hopefully we don’t need to get the assistance for very long.

  3. shamowfski says:

    This headline confused me for a minute. I thought Apps was like applications, and that made me think that “Storm” was some sort of sports team I didn’t know about it.

    Then I got it. I never sleep well on Sunday nights.

  4. pantheonoutcast says:

    “Why would you send police here in riot gear?”

    Duh.

    Also, Ron Mott, thanks for interjecting your opinion into virtually every sentence of your coverage. Some great unbiased reporting there.

  5. agent 47 says:

    I wonder if those people would fight that hard to…oh…I don’t know…get a job?

    • TuxthePenguin says:

      I’ve always wondered why we don’t require some community service/public works from people who are receiving federal/state/city assistance and are capable.

      How much could a city save if a lot of its unskilled work could be done by welfare recipients? I remember a story here in Texas where an old history cemetery wasn’t being maintained. That’s basically just mowing and weeding…

      • Taddare says:

        In my area the application for public housing has a form for when you can do required community service. This is waved if you are over 62, disabled or the only caretaker of a disabled person. There is also forms to help find childcare so you can work.

        • Pax says:

          Same here; the local Housing Authority requires a certain number of hours of Volunteer or Community service from every person over 18 living in it’s units, with waivers available for the elderly and those with disabilities which prevent them from working (and, for those age 18 or 19, who can prove they’re full-time students – i.e., finishing highschool).

      • Nigerian prince looking for business partner says:

        “How much could a city save if a lot of its unskilled work could be done by welfare recipients? “

        The city unions would never go for it. In my town, the union successfully blocked the city from using non-violent criminals sentenced to community service to pick up trash on public right-of-ways. If neighborhoods want to organize volunteer efforts to pick up trash, clean the river banks, remove graffiti, or plant flowers, permission of the city union must be obtained in advance (most of these groups non-profit status falls under the blanket provided by the city).

        If the municipal union isn’t as strong, the local businesses that contract out the unskilled work would also protest.

      • Ard says:

        In my town, if you’re on a lot of public assistance, you’re actually required to be actively holding a job, training for a job, or searching for a job and proof has to be provided every month. If you don’t keep up with your end of the deal, you can be sanctioned and cut off from your benefits for at least 2 months and at most permanently.

        If you’re just using the heath care, for example, and you’re unmarried/separated then one parent has to be paying child support. There is no option and if the receiving parent signs away his/her rights for said child support then that health care plan is removed. This is because the fees for processing + a little extra serve as a payment for the health care.

        Also, for ANY kind of government assistance, you HAVE to be the main care giver of a child, be pregnant, be handicapped.

        I don’t know about every where else, but if you’re an honest person where I’m from then there’s no free ride. The only people you see getting a free ride around here are the ones committing fraud.

    • Anathema777 says:

      There have been reports of job fairs seeing record crowds too.

      • blag says:

        Those job fairs are full of mainly middle aged displaced employees, not this lot of low income waste waiting for handouts. Like the captions says, they’re just a bunch of “grabbing hands.”

    • pantheonoutcast says:

      If you can stand in a parking lot in 90 degree temperatures for hours waiting for an application for public housing, then you are more than capable of working and therefore don’t need public housing.

      • womynist says:

        I don’t generally agree with you, Pantheon, but EXACTLY THIS. I often wonder the same thing when I see people standing on the street holding a sign that says “homeless, please help” or “homeless and hungry”. I think if you can stand in the hot sun on a street corner for the day, it would probably be more beneficial to get those feet moving so you can walk up & down the street applying for jobs.

        A word to the wise–never, EVER give money to the homeless. My best advice is to direct them to a local shelter or soup kitchen, where they can get a meal and case management services. Most (if not all) communities have a soup kitchen, so don’t believe the bullshit about people going hungry. There is no reason for anyone in this country to starve.

        • smirkette says:

          Every social worker friend I’ve had (and I’ve had a few, all across the ideological continuum) say this too. My city (SF) has a TON of services for those who want to get clean and get job training.

      • myCatCracksMeUp says:

        Public housing is NOT just for people who don’t work and if you read anything about it you’d realize that.

        Many public housing residents do work. They just don’t make enough to pay the going rate for housing in the area they live.

        Many of them work hard to improve their lot in life, and many succeed.

        • pantheonoutcast says:

          “Public housing is NOT just for people who don’t work”

          I’ll show you a quarter of a million public housing units in NYC with a turnover rate of under 1% that will make you rethink that statement.

          They’re not looking for temporary assistance – they want lifetime handouts.

    • Guppy06 says:

      You assume they’re not already working 39 hours a week at Walmart. Of course, everybody knows Walmart pays well enough for everybody to get their own McMansion.

      • Snoofin says:

        No but Walmart pays well enough to get an efficiency apartment, possibly even a 2 bedroom apartment depending on where you live. The problem is everyone thinks they are entitled to a fancy home and dont want to start out in a small room like everyone else

      • JayPhat says:

        I worked 40 hours a week at Wal-Mart for 6 years. I stayed in a single bedroom apartnment alone. I didn’t own a fancy car, have basic services, and didn’t live in the lap of luxury for food. When my wife and I moved in together, we got a little bit bigger place.

        This mentality that you can’t live on an entry level job is asinine. Buget and don’t live beyond your means and you’ll do fine.

        And don’t give me the “but what about the single mom with 5 kids” routine. A) The father should be paying. B) Don’t have the kids. It’s not my fault YOU decided to have sex and risk a child. Over. And over. And over again.

    • myCatCracksMeUp says:

      I lived in public housing for a year and I had a job – I was enlisted in the Air Force and had a child.

      Fortunately the wait for public housing was about one month.

      I worked hard and now my husband and I pay more a year in Federal Taxes than the average yearly household income.

      Public housing isn’t just for lazy people who don’t want to work.

      • agent 47 says:

        There are always exceptions to the rule and situations like yours don’t bother me (as much), but lets face it, the majority of those people are lifers on the welfare system, as are their children and their children’s children. When I first got out of college, I was making $18,000 a year and was broke like you wouldn’t believe, but you know what? I still had my own place and I paid for it myself. Sure, it was just a room in some lady’s basement, but I did it and I didn’t rely on taxpayers to do it.

  6. skylar.sutton says:

    “Logistics fail. Why not set up a series of distribution points around the city?”

    Article fail… Just one paragraph higher you indicated that the time they needed 2,400 apps – they clearly didn’t expect 30,000 apps. If you’re not expecting 30k apps it would be pointless to set up multiple distribution points.

    • elangomatt says:

      They did expect 10k people though, sounds to me like multiple distribution points if you are expecting 10k people.

    • elangomatt says:

      They did expect 10k people though, sounds to me like multiple distribution points would have been helpful if you are expecting 10k people.

  7. damageinc says:

    Where are the white people?

  8. wonderkitty now has two dogs says:

    Seeing that this is Atlanta, I am not surprised in the least (former resident). Furthermore, anyone who says that bad things could happen 8 years in row for people to still need the housing when their name comes up is far, far more optimistic than most Atlanta-area residents. I am inclined to think that they have never actually been in downtown Atlanta, or frequented a civic office.

  9. VihoDia says:

    Perfect example of why small government doesn’t work well for a large population. Resources can only be stretched so far when rules and budgets are created from an ideology which perceives smaller to be more efficient.

    • Maximus Pectoralis says:

      How about if instead of the government trying to “stretch resources”, people actually try to make something of their lives? Maybe spend the welfare check on Education instead of Escalades.

      • womynist says:

        +1

        That’s one of the main reasons that the non-profit I work for decided to get rid of our food pantry. All the same people, month after month, year after year coming to our food pantry. And they’re driving Escalades, Lexus, and other luxury cars. They all have their hair & nails done, and you bet they have all the extras on their cell phones. Sure, being low-income doesn’t necessarily mean you have bad credit, but come on, it doesn’t look to good to drive a Cadillac to a food pantry.

    • TuxthePenguin says:

      This is more of a commentary on the people than the government. This is simply the law of demand. The cheaper you make something, the more people will want of it. Here we are GIVING AWAY money – that’s the net effect. So you’re surprised when people come out in droves for it?

      What I’d like to know is how many people on the waiting list are still there after eight years…

  10. JulesNoctambule says:

    Having lived there, I suspect those in charge of the city of Atlanta couldn’t plan how to hit the ground if they decided to jump off the roof.

  11. chaesar says:

    I love posts like this, a real litmus test for a$$holes on the message board

  12. FeelinFroggy says:

    They should have handed them out at the unemployment office…with a prerequisite to help them sign up for a job. Guaranteed the 2400 number would be more accurate then.

    • Pax says:

      And for those who were _permanently_ disabled, unable to _ever_ hold down a job?

      Remember, developmental, cognitive, and psychiatric disabilities aren’t immediately visible – so you can’t say which of the people in that video do or do not have that kind of problem.

  13. Ard says:

    Even more logical, why not open up online registration for the duration of the walk-in application availability. Those that have access to the internet through friends, family or otherwise can do so. This way the walk-in environment is much safer for everyone that has to do it and you also cut down on the size of the angry mob once the time limit for application is reached. This is also better for people with children, are pregnant, or are otherwise handicapped that have to attend the event because they can either do this online or at the very least not have to worry about being out in the heat/crowd, for nearly as long.

    In the end, the people who apply online could be required to mail or walk in proof of identity and income within 2 weeks or so of the the application date(which can’t be debated because it’s usually only 1 day every 2 years or more) to the main office.

    Also also: The reason they only do it at one location, at least for my town, is because they work on a first come first serve basis. Their doors are open for only 2-4 hours and if you didn’t show up early enough to get in and apply then you’re out of luck. This cuts the waiting list down for serious applicants because, really, who is going to show up late for something like this unless they don’t need it as badly as the claim. There is also the problem of finding enough people to actually work crowd control, safety, applications, etc.

  14. touayang says:

    Savages….

  15. AI says:

    First thing that came to mind from the title: If you have enough money to have an iPhone, you don’t public housing apps.

  16. Pax says:

    Totally unsurprising.

    I live in public housing (in Massachusetts). I was on the waiting list for something over EIGHT YEARS in total, before being offered an apartment.

  17. short_texas says:

    I see a lot of people complain about the amount of assistance that is provided to people through social programs such as welfare, public housing, food stamps etc. People complain about not placing requirements or expectations on people to seek employment or other forms of housing.

    Yet very little is said about the huge amounts of corporate and farm subsidies that are handed out every year with no expectation for the money to be paid back. The amount of corporate subsidies and farm subsidies that are given out each year is much much larger than any of the assistance that is provided for social programs.

    The companies that receive these subsidies complain about government regulations and government involvement in the free market, yet they have no complaints about the subsidies they receive from that same government. There is very little societal responsibility placed upon these corporations when they receive subsidies.

    There is a lot of talk about personal responsibility when referring to people who receive social assistance from the government.

    What about the responsibility of these companies to manage themselves in a responsible way?

    What about their societal responsibility to not take away jobs via outsourcing from Americans who pay for these subsidies through tax dollars?

    What about the responsibility to operate the business openly and fairly by not participating in tax evasion?

    What about the responsibility to provide quality pay and health care to their workers who pay taxes that support the subsidies these companies receive?

    In the big picture corporate welfare is a much bigger problem than social welfare.

  18. jeffjohnvol says:

    Its George Bush’s Fault!!!! Puhlease.

  19. Wang_Chung_Tonight says:

    I would like Obama to comment on this, right after he assures us his stimulus is working.

  20. Kevin411 says:

    This is my community. I live a mile from this shopping center and personally know some of the good people involved in the local housing authority. I don’t have time to write all I know, but here are some important facts that the media have mostly ignored:

    - People lined up two days in advance, and were constantly told that they did not need to, as anyone in line by 1pm on the day of the distribution would get an application, and that being first or early meant literally nothing to their chances. Folks refused to believe the written and oral information they were given, and as a result created and exacerbated a dangerous situation in a heat wave. (Last I checked, exacerbation was still legal in Georgia.)

    - Early media reports communicated misinformation about what was available (they didn’t mention that this was only for a waiting list) and that stirred more people to come, some from as far away as Florida and North Carolina.

    - The media covered every “someone broke in line” scuffle like it was a riot breaking out, when the area was covered with police who promptly removed line violators. This coverage though, brought out the worst in people. Rumors of baby deaths in line and other untrue stories further agitated the crowd.

    - Threats, though minor, were made against police and it is SOP that the riot gear was made ready, for a small number of officers, in case it got worse. Riot gear-suited officers were on the outskirts of the crowd on standby, not walking among the crowd. Had they not been prepared and something serious had happened, they would have been at fault for not being prepared.

    - They were supposed to hand out the application from inside the facility only, but were convinced by police to let them assist by setting up multiple distribution points so that people could get applications and get out of the heat. This change, though, led to the scene in the video, as all sorts of chaos broke out when the line no longer meant anything (not that it had ever meant anything but what people convinced themselves it meant).

    - Many in the community worked as volunteers to communicate messages to the crowd and hand out applications when the time came. This was held in the shopping center because a local businessman offered his huge nightclub (capacity 4,000) space so that many applications could be processed at once by staff and others, indoors, with air conditioning. They expected a line on the day-of, even estimating a five-fold increase in applicants just to be safe, but I honestly think that there was no way to predict a 15-fold increase, since this is not an annual event…it had been 8 years, and we are a city of only 40,000 people (East Point is adjacent Atlanta…it’s a very nice town and this incident has to do with the people who showed up, not the majority people of people who live in our city.)

    - The waiting list is for Section 8 vouchers, which can be used anywhere in the US and are not tied to East Point or Atlanta or even Georgia. We’ve just gradually given out out supply of the Federal vouchers so there were spaces on the waiting list to fill before it ran out.

    - I am not sure why they did not put the forms online, though it was likely not even a consideration 8 years ago, which was orderly. I assume they don’t have the capability in-house in our small-town’s housing authority which only has 600+ public housing units and vouchers in existence. There’s just not been a need until now. I do understand they will go online next time…around August of 2018 or so. Hindsight is 20/20. The Housing Authority is not a branch of city government, but a small quasi-governmental state agency with formal ties to the city. They could not use the city’s website for this and I doubt they even have one of their own. Because of federal fairness requirements, they would have to be sure no one had access to applications before or after a certain timeframe, which makes this a professional webhosting project (for how many people nationwide to apply all at once?!) when all we have are 62 spots on a slow waiting list.

  21. DragonThermo says:

    That looks like something that happens in some god-forsaken third-world country. In a civilized society, we queue up. I guess the kind of people whose life’s dream is to live at the taxpayers expense, don’t have any sense of “civility” or “community”.

    I’d bet a dollar that they are the first ones to demand “justice” and rally around their “community organizer”. Anything to relinquish responsibility for themselves.

  22. troublehasher says:

    I wonder if this many people would have shown up if the city was giving out applications for city work, like cleaning up the streets and parks and low income neighborhoods in return for housing credits. For some reason I doubt it.

  23. NydiaGeben says:

    8 year waiting list. … can’t turn your life around in 8 years? You must be only cryin’ not tryin’.

  24. OuHe says:

    Damn, why couldn’t we just send them back to where they came from when we brought them over. This country would have been a much better place.

  25. windycitygirl68 says:

    When I lived in Atlanta a few years ago and was getting a pedicure after a long week at work, two women sat in the pedi chairs next to me. One was showing off her new engagement ring, and the other was asking when the wedding would take please. “Please, girl…I can’t really get married – I’ll lose my Section 8!” As I watched the local Atlanta coverage of the melee, with both men and women shaking their iPhones at reporters, as women and men covered in hundreds (if not thousands) of dollars worth of tattoo artwork, screamed at anyone who would listen and as fresh weaves and Baby Phat were everywhere, I felt sorry for not one of them. I feel for those who are truly disbled, either mentally or physically, and are unable to secure decent housing because of it. I feel sorry for the elderly and for people who must take on the task of raising others’ children without the means to do it. But those people at that disaster? Thousands of the same girl who sat in the pedi chair and worried about losing her section 8 eligibility. Bah.

  26. JayPhat says:

    Perhaps the government could take these individuals, give them BRIEF training, then put them on the border or helping round up illegal immigrants. Then, once the illegals are gone, we could turn around and place these people into the jobs that the illegals were doing. Win-win.

  27. LastError says:

    Since I happen to live within walking distance of this event location, let ME fill in some details.

    It wasn’t actually IN the city of Atlanta proper. This is OK because Atlanta took nearly all the bad press for it and that’s pretty much OK with the people who live in the smaller city where it did actually take place. Which was not Atlanta. We are proud not to be Atlantans.

    The smaller city where it took place has a population of about 30,000. Thus this rundown shithole of a shopping center (even Dollar General left, even the Hostess thrift store left years ago; even the pawn shop left) suddenly became as populated as the entire rest of this city. Holy cow. Did I mention I live near this? I had to try to drive to work through it. Lucky for me, I know plenty of back routes.

    It became a fiasco because the local government (again, not Atlanta) is inept and mostly bankrupt. But they conjured up this plan to make a new waiting list and word got out to the local media and suddenly the whole metro area found out about it. Local residents like me didn’t know about it either until I heard it on the news like everyone else. Thank you City of East Point. You suck.

    There were no other locations “around the city” because the city in question is six miles across and has virtually no particular places where you can do something like this. Plus the entire staff of the local housing authority (I didn’t actually know we HAD such a thing before this) is probably three or four people who all related to the mayor or something. This is not a big town.

    There were more than one distribution point in the parking lot. The video shows one. I know they had people handing them out all over the place. Shrug.

    Why were all the people black? They weren’t There were whites and hispanics and others in the crowd. But it so happens this is a majority black area.

    Why did the police get out the riot gear? Look at the pictures and you tell me. Remember, this is a city of 30,000 people with a relatively small police force suddenly contending with 100% more people and all the new ones crammed into an old, small shopping center with no water and no bathrooms and no shade and no nothing, and 96 degree heat. There has never been any event on this scale in the entire history of this town. Never. So you look at the pictures on TV and do the math and reach for the riot shield and pray you don’t need it.

    I understand we called in mutual aid from everybody. We have a lot of experience with mutual aid since the city is so broke, we laid off many of our firefighters and closed down half the city fire stations. Fire protection in some areas is now supplied by the small city next door. They’re broke too but they still have firemen apparently. They don’t know where any of our streets are. We just hope we never need them. Anyway we know how to outsource here, yessir! Who cares if response times are >15 minutes.

    Why were people going nuts just to get on a waiting list? I dunno. I suspect many of them didn’t know it was just to get on a list. They thought it was get a form = get free rent. I can tell you having lived here for more than 12 years that the term “section 8″ is like a wet moment for some people. It’s the holy grail of nearly free housing that has to meet certain standards to be part of section 8, so for some people it’s like a mansion-level step up. Until they trash it. But meanwhile the houses are nice or else they don’t qualify. And Section 8 makes them cheap. So there is huge demand.

    Any specific questions about this fiasco? I’ll be happy to give the local perspective.

    • Kevin411 says:

      Also living nearby, I can’t argue with most of your points (many of my own were stated above), but one pair of items should be clarified. The EP Housing Authority is not a branch of the City Government. It is an independent state authority created to serve this area. The city does have ties to it, but no one in the city, including a unanimous vote of Council, can order them to do anything. Several really great people are on the board, which is made up of volunteers. They hire a professional full time executive director who then hires staff to run the day to day operations. They are frankly the best run governmental operation in the city. When is the last time you saw any bad press about them or their complexes?

      Second, the city of EP was a fiscal disaster, but is seriously getting its act together. There are still problems and procedures to work out, but the money picture is much brighter today than it was years ago. All the audits are done and available for viewing, but it sometimes seems difficult to participate and stay informed.

      Finally, for the city population to unexpectedly double in 24 hours, particularly by some pretty desperate folks (being egged on by false reports in the media, and for the event to be pulled off with no major injuries, no minor injuries not related to the heat or skipping medications, and every single person who wanted a form getting one, I think it went pretty well. There was no way to predict a 15-fold increase in applicants (they planed on 5-fold) and there was no way to hand out forms in an orderly fashion to that many hot, desperate people who have heard false rumors for days regarding first-come-first-serve (not at all a factor). It was amazingly well handled considering its unprecedented nature. No serious injuries, no arrests, and no one not getting a form.

      I’m glad the non-local media is placing the blame where it belongs, on the people in the crowd who refused to believe official information, who passed along rumors, who broke in line, who pulled out a taser, and who acted just plain rude. Outside of the local area, folks are seeing this as a sign of how desperate the housing situation is in this economy. Frankly, there are more foreclosed, now vacant homes within 7 miles of this shopping center than there were applications requested…this was ground zero for mortgage fraud.

      (On the other hand, it’s nice to meet a fellow local Consumerist…ask around…someone will know me by this name and put you in touch to say hi.)

  28. soj4life says:

    Stop saying atlanta when this did not happen in atlanta, it was in the city of east point.

    this is what happens when poorly designed public housing is demolished and residents are pushed into the section 8 program.

    • Kevin411 says:

      The 40-50+ year-old cinderblock public housing was built by the federal government, not the EPHA. Folks came from Florida and North Carolina to stand in line here in East Point due to misinformation in the media.

      EPHA’s plans are to sell some of the closing properties to be able to fund redevelopment of others, otherwise all of them would end up condemned and closed in the next decade or so. They also have some creative ideas that are giving them access to more ARRA-type funds that will help put more people into home ownership and fill vacant homes. Check them out…you’ll find they are a good group with real and workable plans to do more for more people. Meanwhile, they have to follow federal guidelines with federal programs such as Section 8 waiting lists. This mess in the parking lot could hardly have been avoided by any other group.

  29. Intheknow says:

    Yeah, the economy is turning around. Tell that to the 10% of people out of a job and the who-knows-how-many people who are under-employed.