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People residing in parks, tent cities, campgrounds, abandoned buildings, cars, bus or train stations etc. are not included in the Point-In-Time-Homeless-Count. This shows that there are way more homeless people than what the statistics show, and that there’s so many more people in need of help.

Photo by Aniyah Parker/VOX Media Cafe

Warning: This story includes domestic violence. 

Atlanta’s Invisible Homeless [Opinion]

by share

For most of my childhood, I lived in a locked basement. To be specific, my father’s mother’s basement. Ultimately, ending up back there after moving from different houses, shelters, and motels since we were homeless. Our main meals were ramen-flavored chicken noodles and corn dogs every day. My father was abusive toward my mom and was definitely not right in the head. 

Despite the challenges, my mom did a great job shielding us and keeping us unaware of the situation. Looking back, I wish I had noticed the signs earlier, such as going to bed early, my mom constantly trying to calm him down, and with her always being in constant pain. 

One night, as we were all sleeping together, she couldn’t shield us. It was the middle of the night when he came in. My mom was on the reclining chair near us. Waking up, I sensed something was wrong immediately. He entered the room, and as soon as he did, he choked my mom, lifting her in the air and yelling frantically at her.

For three months, my mom meticulously planned an escape plan with the help of her friend. She saved money, packed our belongings slowly, and made calls to various places while he was out. When the day finally arrived, my mom picked us up from school and declared that we were leaving. From that point on, we lived in motels until we were finally granted entry into a domestic violence shelter, where we could save enough money to get a safe place to stay.

Did you know most of the people who are homeless are not even counted as being homeless?! 

Well, according to the Point In Time Count Report, which measures the homeless population, the counts are only of the people in shelters and on the street. That’s why I’m raising awareness and addressing the different aspects of homelessness that often go unnoticed or unspoken. Specifically, Atlanta’s population. 

It’s an issue that takes various forms and affects many people. To me, homelessness is a person or family without a permanent, consistent, and sufficient place to call home at night. Therefore, people living in their cars, under bridges, on the streets, in hotels, motels, shelters and people temporarily having to live with family members and friends’ houses are considered to be homeless. 

Around 11 million people in the US are living in poverty! In its 2022 annual report, U.S. The Department of Housing and Urban Development reported: “582,462 people were experiencing homelessness on a single night in January 2022. COVID-19 and its economic impacts could have led to significant increases in homelessness, however investments, partnerships and government agency outreach resulted in only a .3% increase in the number of people experiencing homelessness from 2020 to 2022.” Based on the numbers, homelessness has been a problem, one that is only increasing.

In Atlanta, the 2023 “Point-In-Time” (PIT) count conducted in January by volunteer canvassers estimated that 2,679 of people living in Atlanta were homeless during a single-evening count. According to the PIT Count Report’s Housing Inventory Count conducted in Atlanta in January 203, use of all their beds for their housing services were at 75% utilization, meaning 25% of housing and housing intervention beds were empty and open. Also, the Housing Inventory Count (HIC) is a survey that takes a snapshot of the programs available in the area. This count helps to identify dedicated beds and units to support individuals experiencing homelessness. 

The invisible homeless are the people not even counted in the counts above. As a result, people residing at parks, tent cities, campgrounds, abandoned buildings, cars, bus or train stations and similar places are not accounted for. This shows that there are way more homeless people than what the statistics state and that there’s so many more people in need who need help.

 In my story, my family and I were part of the invisible homeless. We had lived in countless motels and places where we were told to leave as soon as possible. Some people even tried to tell us that we were not really homeless. That’s why I’m informing people about the high homelessness rate in Atlanta, growing even more because of inflation, rising food prices, housing costs, clothing expenses, increasing gas, and vehicle prices. Everywhere I go, you see countless homeless people. I always see and hear tourists point out the significant number of homeless people we have. I’ve also heard so many stories from people coming from outside of Atlanta not expecting there to be so many homeless people. 

Don’t you think it’s time for this to be put to an end?


VOX ATL invites all Georgia youth to speak up through our annual survey! It’s anonymous, easy to take on your phone & you could win $50 in our drawing.  So click bit.ly/voxsurvey23 ASAP to take it & help spread the word. You could win $50! Thanks!
READ  HIV Myth Busting with VOX ATL [Podcast]

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comments (10)

  1. Jay

    This is a beautiful heart warming story soo well writing and described it gave highlights and great details.. Shows struggle and courage, a real wake up call to the people leadership and understanding the struggles from then to now and actually able to give a good insight on reality Homeless People. what’s really going on in the world does not get talked about enough sometimes and all it takes is a little shine on a situation so maybe in the end the world can blossom more. Great Job Parker Proud Of You!!

  2. Chance Daniel

    TO GO THROUGH WHAT YOU WENT THROUGH AND TO STILL CARE ABOUT ANOTHER LIFE, I TRULY SALUTE YOU AND YOUR FAMILY!!! YOUR COURAGE IS TRULY INSPIRING!! IF I COULD SAY ANYTHING TO YOU, I WOULD SAY NEVER STOP SPEAKING YOUR TRUTH. SHINE YOU BEAUTIFUL QUEEN!!

  3. Camila

    I love how you tell your story to everyone what homeless people are going through. This world everyone struggles to buy a house, food, etc. even migrants have problems getting a house they want best for their kids. America need to provide more for people who need helps and build more shelter for them. We need equal right no matter what our skin color or if we are rich.

  4. C8lin

    Powerful article and a learning opportunity. I didn’t realize so many were not included in that count! Thank you for sharing, educating and bringing awareness to this! It’s a growing problem thst needs more attention.

  5. Lynn

    There are so many people living paycheck to paycheck across this country that are just a health issue or other large expense away from being homeless. The invisible need a voice otherwise no one hears them.

  6. The Pound Cake Shack

    Absolutely, Amazing writing Keke, well stated & proudly Accurate!!
    Thanks, for your unique writing & sharing your truth. God is amazing, Even when, you can’t Trace Him…
    K.I.M.

  7. Leigh Riccio

    Beautifully written. We never know what people are going through. The means in which homelessness is accounted for is sadly inadequate, inaccurate, and those ultimately ineffective for those who meed assistance.

  8. Lauretta L Porter

    So well spoken, homeless families really need someone who has experienced what they are at present let them know that through the resources that are available they will succeed ! Great Work
    I’m so proud of you

  9. J. Ferguson

    That was an awesome article. It was very informative and easy to read. Thank you for sharing a piece of your life and helping us define homeless.

  10. Kim

    Beautifully written! Your struggles have refined you and made you a voice for those who are not heard. Keep up the good fight and continue shining your light in this world!