In his first post, he wrote there were “underlying issues” related to long-term homelessness, including substance abuse and mental illness, and he worried the county was not providing resources to address that beyond giving them a place to stay during the crisis.
The county said the 43 people were screened for coronavirus symptoms before entering the hotel, but did not disclose where they were relocated. The county has not provided details on what other services or resources it is offering its local homeless population during the pandemic.
A count earlier this year found that more than 400 homeless people lived in DeKalb, according to The Champion newspaper.
“My primary concern is that this was done in a location where there’s another vulnerable population,” Geierman said in an interview on Friday. “In terms of us in Doraville, we haven’t been given any resources to help with this. It was sort of dropped in our lap in probably the worst place possible.”
DeKalb County Commissioner Lorraine Cochran-Johnson said the situation was not as Geierman presented it. She said the senior citizens were kept safe and separated from people in the hotel.
“DeKalb County stepped in to meet the needs of Doraville’s homeless population, because we provide for the safety and welfare of all DeKalb residents,” Cochran-Johnson wrote on Facebook. “There was a sensationalization of this situation rather than a discussion by appropriate elected officials.”
Geierman said he wrote his original Facebook post “out of frustration” after not hearing from the county last week, and was happy the issue was resolved.
Doraville Councilwoman Stephe Koontz, who initially criticized the county’s actions, said she talked with Cochran-Johnson and later said she was “too quick to blame” the county. She said the city should have thought about the hotel’s proximity to the senior living facility weeks ago.
“It doesn’t matter if homeless folks or just the general public are staying at this hotel: if there is actually a risk of the virus being transmitted to the seniors living there, we should have done something to protect them and we didn’t,” Koontz wrote on Facebook.
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