Exile on Peachtree Street


Olympic fever swept across the city in September 1990 when it was announced Atlanta would host the 1996 Summer Games. Residents were shocked, politicians astounded, business leaders brought to tears.

Four years later, that zeal had slowly faded. Organizers believed excitement would return once sponsors were secured, the stadium was squared away and controversies became yesterday’s news. But they needed a boost. A ceremony was planned for the $5 million overhaul of Woodruff Park, the first major pre-Olympics construction project to break ground.

On a foggy Monday morning in October 1994, dapper businessmen and Olympic dignitaries arrived at the 6-acre park on Peachtree Street to the sound of string instruments played by Georgia State University students and the sight of a color guard.

Mayor Bill Campbell opened the ceremony by praising the park’s renovation plans. Other community leaders followed, taking turns at the microphone, and as they did, the faint sound of a chant filled the air, growing stronger.

No justice, no peace! shouted scores of protesters, some carrying signs, who filed into the park, drowning out the boosterish remarks. “Stop the Olympic war on the poor,” said one sign. “WHATIZIT? More displacement of the poor,” said another, poking fun at the much-maligned Olympic mascot.

Attempting to ignore the interruption, Campbell was guided by his staff toward a hardhat and shovel for a photo op. But before he could lift a scoop of dirt, several protesters fell to the ground beneath him, lying face up, grinning.

Asked by reporters if the homeless dampened the Olympic spirit, Campbell responded, “Of course not. They add to the spice and diversity of Atlanta.” They added to the next day’s headlines as well.

Sitting back watching it all unfold was 52-year-old Anita Beaty, a five-foot-two firebrand with blazing-red hair. As executive director of the Metro Atlanta Task Force for the Homeless, Beaty often tried to subvert some of Atlanta’s defining moments on the world stage by deflecting attention to the city’s growing homeless population.

Exile on Peachtree Street
Anita Beaty’s three-decade battle to serve Atlanta’s homeless population her way finally draws to an end.
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Exile on Peachtree Street

Anita Beatys three\-decade battle to serve Atlantas homeless population her way finally draws to an end.

KickerThis is a kicker.

Olympic fever swept across the city in September 1990 when it was announced Atlanta would host the 1996 Summer Games. Residents were shocked, politicians astounded, business leaders brought to tears. Four years later, that zeal had slowly faded. Organizers believed excitement would return once sponsors were secured, the stadium was squared away and controversies became yesterdays news. But they needed a boost. A ceremony was planned for the $5 million overhaul of Woodruff Park, the first major pre\-Olympics construction project to break ground. On a foggy Monday morning in October 1994, dapper businessmen and Olympic dignitaries arrived at the 6\-acre park on Peachtree Street to the sound of string instruments played by Georgia State University students and the sight of a color guard. Mayor Bill Campbell opened the ceremony by praising the parks renovation plans. Other community leaders followed, taking turns at the microphone, and as they did, the faint sound of a chant filled the air, growing stronger. _No justice, no peace!_ shouted scores of protesters, some carrying signs, who filed into the park, drowning out the boosterish remarks. Stop the Olympic war on the poor, said one sign. WHATIZIT? More displacement of the poor, said another, poking fun at the much\-maligned Olympic mascot. Attempting to ignore the interruption, Campbell was guided by his staff toward a hardhat and shovel for a photo op. But before he could lift a scoop of dirt, several protesters fell to the ground beneath him, lying face up, grinning. Asked by reporters if the homeless dampened the Olympic spirit, Campbell responded, Of course not. They add to the spice and diversity of Atlanta. They added to the next days headlines as well. Sitting back watching it all unfold was 52\-year\-old Anita Beaty, a five\-foot\-two firebrand with blazing\-red hair. As executive director of the Metro Atlanta Task Force for the Homeless, Beaty often tried to subvert some of Atlantas defining moments on the world stage by deflecting attention to the citys growing homeless population. Woodruff Park was where many men and women slept, received free medical care and ate church\-delivered meals. Displacing them for a year while the park underwent renovation was unacceptable in her eyes. Days before the groundbreaking ceremony, she accused officials of being desperate to get the homeless out of sight in preparation for future tourists. She knew something had to be done. Theyre not going to round up all the people one week before the Games, she told a reporter. The big changes are happening now so when 1996 gets here, there wont be any brouhaha. She claimed the homeless were being banned from asking for money, encouraged to leave the city altogether and wrongfully arrested in the run\-up to the Olympics. So she vowed to make sure those in power who were fixated on Olympic glory could not forget the human side of homelessness. The city, she learned, would never forget her fight.

**2. Sheltered life unsheltered** The first home Anita can remember was the brick bungalow her family rented in an all\-white neighborhood in Columbia, South Carolina. Her father was a musician who worked a string of temporary jobs. Her mother, a homemaker until Anitas teenage years, played bridge with friends and attended cocktail parties providing a glimpse into an upper class lifestyle she longed for but never had. But like many Southern middle\-class families in the 50s, they were able to afford a maid. Anita and her younger sister were placed in the care of Hattie Bell Tucker, who exposed the girls to African\-American culture. Hattie used to say, Dont sit on the side of the bathtub, youll fall over backwards, break your head open and die, Anita recalls. Of course, I sat on the edge, fell and was knocked unconscious. I woke up in her arms; she was rocking me and crying and singing. I will never forget the love I felt. Her relationship with Hattie opened Anitas eyes to poverty and segregation in the South. Sitting alone in Columbias library at age 12, she could hear the songs of the black activists marching toward lunch counter sit\-ins. Her privilege soon came into sharper focus as a top student and cheerleader at an all\-white public high school. She was something of a queen bee, said childhood friend Gray Temple. Societal circles pushed Anita toward debutante balls and sorority life at the University of South Carolina, but her growing awareness of social injustice pulled her toward tutoring black orphan girls and renovating a condemned house for an elderly woman. It all felt fake, Anita said of the first path. A short\-lived first marriage and a stint in grad school led Anita toward Jim Beaty, a writer, teacher and Presbyterian minister. They each had kids of their own and after having some together, moved all six of them around South Carolina. Anita taught at a historically black college in Sumter. In Myrtle Beach, she took a job launching literacy programs in destitute counties along the coast. She had an insatiable compassion to help, Jim said. Whenever she sees people in danger, she wants to help them. Nothing really quelled it. In 1983, Anita quit working with the poor to focus on another passion art. The Beatys moved from Myrtle Beach to Buckhead, sending the last of their kids to Northside High School while Anita launched a nonprofit that designed costumes for local theaters. He taught literature at Georgia State and wrote fiction on the side. She painted and drew portraits. The family joined a Dunwoody church where Anitas volunteer activities led her to the Open Door Community, a Catholic homeless service organization off Ponce de Leon Avenue.

**3. Meeting Donnie** On a chilly Saturday in February 1985, Anita visited Open Doors soup kitchen for the very first time. I didnt want to go, her husband Jim recalled. I wanted to watch football. She dragged him there. The two helped out, doing whatever was needed. From the corner of her eye Anita noticed a homeless woman scarfing down a hot meal in the warmth of the shelter. The woman had a beautiful blonde baby named Donnie. Anita offered to watch him while the woman finished her food. As Anita rocked blue\-eyed Donnie, her heart melted, even though his nose ran like a faucet and his last diaper was soiled. He was an absolute mess his jacket ragged, the milk in his bottle curdled yet he still smiled. I fell in love, Anita said. She grew fixated on Donnie and his precipitous situation. In the early 80s, homelessness had the potential to be a death sentence for grown men, let alone for a toddler. Driving to and from her day job at Georgia Tech where she wrote newsletters, Anita would see Donnies mother walking the streets downtown. Anita asked shelter workers: _Had the mother sought shelter?_ Yes, but she got kicked out. _Was Donnie OK?_ Yes, but hed gone to Grady. Anita grew so concerned for Donnies well\-being, she couldnt sleep some nights. In the early morning hours, she drove around downtown trying to catch a glimpse of him just to know he was fine. Eventually Anita called the states Division of Family and Childrens Services and a TV reporter who hosted Wednesdays Child, a weekly segment featuring foster children looking for homes. Anita heard nothing for a while. Then one day, the phone rang. It was a caseworker: _Remember the baby youve been so interested in? He is sitting in my desk drawer right now. We just dont have a place for him._ The next day, Jim pulled his Honda motorcycle into their driveway and walked inside their home to find the kid from the soup kitchen running toward him with his arms wide open. _What in the hell has Anita done now,_ Jim thought to himself. But Jim warmed up fast. Just a few years shy of being empty nesters, the Beatys opened their home to this spunky toddler whod never lived in a house before. Donnies effect on my parents was like a thunderclap, said Anitas son, Frank Beaty. They had to save him. After two years, they won custody, and Donnie became a Beaty.

**4. Rise of the Task Force** Numbers vary depending on whos counting, but some estimates contend the number of homeless people quadrupled in the U.S. to 400,000 following the Reagan\-era recession. In response, a group of local faith leaders and activists formed the Metro Atlanta Task Force for the Homeless to address the crisis. The Beatys were hired as co\-coordinators within a year of Donnie entering their lives. Anita didnt just adopt a child, she adopted thousands of people whom she accepted responsibility for, former Atlanta Mayor Andrew Young said recently. Anita became the glue that bound together a string of scattered homeless service providers around town, creating a network of services. She and Jim launched a volunteer\-run emergency hotline that helped the citys 6,000 homeless find beds, meals, jobs and MARTA tokens. Anita soon gained recognition as Georgias top homelessness expert while making an annual salary of $16,000. She educated the public on the homeless, explaining that the population was growing younger and more racially diverse by the day. They were affected by unemployment, mental illness and chronic addiction. She urged officials and developers to build more affordable housing units at a time when thousands already waited to get into public housing. She demanded people see housing as a basic human right. Early on, Anita made the decision to wear two hats administrator and activist. It was a far cry from the quiet manner in which most cash\-strapped service providers operated. Most, to avoid angering donors who might cut off future contributions, simply served without stirring the pot. But instead of capitulating to business interests, Anita tried to broker meetings on behalf of homeless people to ensure they wouldnt be relegated to the fringes of society. When leaders wouldnt listen, Anita had the ability to stage demonstrations or draw on countrywide support from her fellow board members at the National Coalition for the Homeless. The 16\-day demonstration at the Imperial Hotel, which led to assurances from the city to build thousands of affordable housing units, was proof that victories could be won on behalf of the homeless. But Anita sensed the threats brought by the 1996 Atlanta Games were a different beast. Local leaders spoke openly about their pro\-business agenda to ensure, as one booster put it, that the splendor of the Olympics would outshine the squalor of Southern poverty. And Central Atlanta Progress, the downtown booster group whose members included Fortune 500 corporations and other major institutions, lobbied for laws that effectively dispersed the homeless. We thought the Olympics were going to bring more draconian measures from the city, Anita said. And, indeed, it did. Anita co\-founded the Atlanta Olympic Conscience Coalition. She confronted officials at public events and spoke out at City Hall. There was no shortage of plans she objected to, including a program that paid for one\-way bus tickets to send the homeless to other cities and an ordinance Anita believed enabled officers to harass the homeless for sleeping in city parks. The Task Force started tracking the number of homeless people arrested. What they found was startling: Atlanta police had made four times as many arrests of homeless people for offenses in the year leading up to the 1996 Olympics. The Task Force obtained lawyers for seven homeless men who sued the city for wrongful arrest in what the lawsuits called a systematic effort to purge them from the streets. The month before Muhammad Ali lit the Olympic torch, a federal judge ordered police not to enforce a city ordinance allowing them to arrest the homeless in parking lots or garages. After the Olympics left town, City Hall ultimately settled with five homeless plaintiffs for $3,000 each and agreed to train officers on how to interact with the homeless. The Task Force, charged with monitoring the police, felt justice was served.

**5. Starting a shelter** Anita needed a new home for the Task Force. Her nonprofit had outgrown its longtime home in Grant Park. Months after the Olympics, Anita found a perfect building on the corner of Peachtree and Pine streets. She liked the 1920s\-era yellow\-brick building once home to auto mechanics, pharmacists and ballerinas for its proximity to the North Avenue MARTA station and for its size, nearly twice as big as the White House. And she found a donor, William C. Wardlaw III, a progressive scion of the Coca\-Cola empire, who admired Anita and Jims mission. In January 1997, the Wardlaw family paid $1.3 million for the building and transferred the deed to the Task Force. By years end the structure stretching the block of Pine Street opened for business. Twelve people slept there the first night. Called the Downtown Homeless Resource Center, it is known to most people as the Peachtree\-Pine homeless shelter. The center offered food, water, job counseling, health care referrals, legal aid and temporary housing. The shelter was open to virtually everyone and, unlike most shelters, was free of charge. Anita had grand visions for Peachtree\-Pine. Her aspirations included making it the 24\-7 hub of Atlantas homeless service network with a 300\-seat soup kitchen, a service center catering to a variety of needs and a small overnight shelter for 100 or 200 people at most. There were plans to add new floors for affordable housing units atop the sturdy, low\-slung building. Anita hoped for a grocery and caf on the street level facing Peachtree that would provide jobs for the homeless. She imagined her clients tending a rooftop garden, creating art in studios. What if she helped them paint their masterpieces? The sky was the limit for Anita. We had visions of inclusivity in this building that would celebrate the variety of people who lived in Atlanta, Anita said. This was a beautiful experiment.

**6. Making enemies** The cost of overhauling Peachtree\-Price started with a price tag of about $6 million. But no amount of money could repair bridges shed burned with leaders now standing in her way. One of them was Atlanta Councilwoman Debi Starnes. First elected in 1993, Starnes said she wanted to work with the Task Force. She thought Anita had good intentions regarding her advocacy. We tried and tried and tried to work with her, Starnes said. She has this savior complex about helping homeless men. The roots of their rift started well before Starnes took office. In the late 80s, Congress started funding homeless service providers; millions of dollars were flowing into Atlanta by the time Bill Clinton became president. But there was a catch: All of Atlantas service providers had to submit one application in hopes of encouraging collaboration. An adept grant writer dating back to her South Carolina days, Anita won an unprecedented $12.4 million grant in 1994 that would largely be doled out to other providers. The money sparked disputes: Some providers accused Anita of being slow to distribute funds, while others blasted her in the press for refusing to compromise in the name of collaboration. Anita disputed many of these claims, but the criticisms led to the creation of a new informal collective called the Homeless Action Group. Led by Starnes, Homeless Action Group corralled support from disillusioned civic leaders and service providers who no longer felt Anita served their best interests. Anita, for her part, believed Starnes intentionally demonized her efforts. Ultimately, Anita and Starnes submitted separate proposals for one\-stop shop centers where homeless people could get shelter and a slew of services. Both landed federal funding but less money than when they worked together. Anita and Jim recruited civil rights leaders\-turned\-lawmakers John Lewis, Tyrone Brooks and Andrew Young to call for public support and donations to fulfill her grand vision. But City Hall opponents who supported Starnes proposal for a resource center near Grady Memorial Hospital said Atlanta didnt need two facilities, so they denied the permit requests required to make improvements. Anitas vision for the Peachtree\-Pine shelter would have to be altered. At its core, still, was a philosophy that differed from other providers. Many shelters had begun requiring men and women to get jobs or get sober before they could gain access, in hopes they could break the cycle of chronic homelessness. But Anita believed the homeless should always have immediate access to shelter regardless of their employment status or sobriety only then could they break that very cycle. Starnes Resource Opportunity Center opened in 1999. It offered transitional housing for 32 people and no emergency shelter beds. Meanwhile, the city cut funding for homeless shelters and developers continued razing thousands of low\-income units. With fewer other choices, more men and women came to the Peachtree\-Pine shelter. The Task Force faced a dilemma: Should they continue their mission to operate a small overflow shelter or should they accommodate the citys growing homeless population? Anita chose the latter.

**7. Critics emerge** Anyone who has driven by the Peachtree\-Pine shelter has seen the spectacle. Destitute men, women and children gather on the curbs and sidewalks. Some sleep or socialize, while others look stupefied by drugs, mental illness or the sheer desperation of their circumstances. Discarded packaging litters the area, remnants of free meals delivered impromptu by area churches. Drugs are dealt in plain sight. Anita doesnt condone illegal behavior at Peachtree\-Pine, and shes not afraid to call the police on clients who dont follow shelter rules. But she cant control what happens on the streets surrounding the building, and she criticizes Atlanta police for failing to respond to her concerns about the situation. Over the years, Anitas critics grew louder. Residents claimed the shelter hurt property values. Federal auditors claimed the Task Force mismanaged funds. Newspaper columnists claimed Anita exploited the homeless for personal gain by keeping them in a cycle of chronic homelessness. The Task Force typically housed on average 500 men a night, double that on cold winter nights. Women and children slept in a separate part of the building. Critics accused Anita of warehousing the homeless. But few argued with her intentions. Theres no one who cares more for the homeless than Anita, but shes burned bridges with funders and other agencies, Bill Bolling, founder of the Atlanta Community Food Bank told Creative Loafing in 2008. Trying to be a thorn in peoples side doesnt work over the long haul. Anita started to feel like a scapegoat for the homeless. Former allies began distancing themselves from the work at Peachtree\-Pine. Total annual revenue plummeted from $1.7 million in 2001 to $404,000 in 2009. After government officials cut public funding in 2007, Anitas board of more than a dozen people dropped into the single digits. Homeless volunteers filled much of the void left once the Task Force could no longer pay staff. The strain took its toll. She came to worry about her health but never gave herself much time to check on it. She wanted to dote more on her growing gaggle of grandchildren but felt a responsibility for people who had no one to care for them at all. There were days when Id think, I cannot do this anymore, she said. Occasional thoughts of stepping back from daily operations grew more frequent. But the people she sheltered inspired her to keep going. In 2008, City Hall shut off Peachtree\-Pines water after it failed to pay a nearly $170,000 bill, even though at least nine other customers owed more including the city jail. A judge ruled for the water to keep flowing. Despite all of this turmoil, the Task Force managed to serve 15,000 people in 2009 and helped find another 1,500 permanent housing, according to court filings. Anitas remaining supporters rallied around the Task Force after learning that Central Atlanta Progress \(CAP\), the downtown business group long opposed to the Task Force, had allegedly set out to undermine the shelter in the mid\-2000s. Lawyers for the Task Force compiled evidence that convinced Anita CAP had covertly met with her donors to dissuade them from making charitable contributions. The conspiracy didnt seem unreasonable to Anita: Neighboring institutions like Emory Healthcare eyed expansion; CAP would rather have new development than a downtrodden shelter. A pair of pro\-bono lawyers at Baker Donelson deposed CAP staffers who, after intense questioning, admitted to wanting to oust the Task Force from its building. The lawyers also stumbled upon a complicated investment scheme: CAP sought to purchase two mortgages worth $900,000 that Anita took out years earlier for building improvements. When the faith\-based charity holding the notes balked, a group backed by a developer friendly with CAPs president bought the Peachtree\-Pine note. The developer attempted to evict the Task Force from the building; however, a judge let the Task Force remain until the suit was resolved.

**9. The last stand** Anita believed a trial would save Peachtree\-Pine. But the Task Force had to stay open for it to matter at a time when critics blasted the shelter for contributing to a tuberculosis outbreak and drawing violent crime to downtown. In August 2014, Mayor Kasim Reeds administration threatened to cut off Peachtree\-Pines water if they didnt pay a water bill that had grown to nearly $600,000. Days before the intended cut\-off date, Anita called a press conference on the steps of City Hall and pulled out three checks for the full amount, holding them up for the TV cameras to see. She smiled wryly, explaining an anonymous angel donor had saved the shelter at the final hour. She posed for pictures before moseying inside to hand the checks to an awestruck clerk. _Miracles do happen,_ said one of Reeds advisers, watching in disbelief. The Task Force continued sheltering thousands of men despite predictions of imminent collapse. Anita heard other homeless service providers had created a contingency plan with the citys blessing to transition Peachtree\-Pine residents in case it finally closed. Meanwhile, there were nearly 6,000 homeless people living in Atlanta. Two government\-funded shelters, home to 300 beds, had closed that year. The following year, Anita watched another miracle unfold in the halls of the Georgia Supreme Court. One of her lawyers fiercely argued the Task Forces racketeering lawsuit. On a chilly morning in November 2015, the court cleared the way for a jury trial. Anita believed the time had come for vindication. The trial was scheduled for the first week of October 2016, but it was quietly postponed. Lawyers mediated. Her board mulled a CAP settlement potentially paying them $11 million if they left Peachtree\-Pine. The Task Force suddenly found itself at a crossroads: Should they accept a large sum of money, giving up the shelter to help in other ways, or reject the settlement and continue to fight for the right to stay on Peachtree Street? Some board members saw settlement as surrender. Others figured the money would allow for a reboot. Anita had plenty of doubts the money left over wouldnt be much after settling debts and tried to convince her handful of board members to march onward. At a meeting in 2016, Jim watched his wifes pleas go unheard by lawyers who sought to settle. He later emailed the board his resignation letter. Then former Councilwoman Myrtle Davis, one of Anitas longest supporters, stepped down. The remaining three board members civil rights leader Joe Beasley, comedian Jerry Farber and Georgia State professor Chuck Steffen approved the reported $9.7 million settlement. The Task Force would vacate its longtime home. Out of protest, Anita quietly retired several months before the board approved the deal. It meant she would get no money from the deal, and she would not be bound to a gag order. No media outlet reported the news for months.

**11. All things must pass** On August 28, the Task Force will say goodbye to the Peachtree\-Pine shelter. CAP has pledged to move the homeless men staying there in a humane manner" in the near future. Earlier this month, Atlanta City Council approved funding for a $26 million bond commitment that, combined with $25 million promised by the United Way, will go toward making homelessness rare, brief and non\-recurring. The Reed administration and its philanthropic partners have expressed interest in offering homeless people housing regardless of their circumstances similar to what Anita first championed back in the late 80s and creating 270 new emergency shelter beds. As for the Task Forces future, interim executive director Carl Hartrampf says the organization is identifying target populations to focus on: seniors without access to public housing, the mentally ill, the addicted. A statement from Steffen, Task Force board chairman, said the organization will continue our two\-fold mission of providing direct homeless services and advocating for policies and programs that attack the underlying causes of homelessness. So far, there has been no mention of a future shelter. The soul of Atlanta is at Peachtree\-Pine, said board member Beasley. The shelter will be gone, the people will be gone, but the soul will always be there. What Anita established there will be eternal. The end of Peachtree\-Pine, according to close friends and family members, has privately devastated Anita, regardless of the strong front she displays to the world. In a Facebook post before the settlement was announced, she wrote, All hell has taken over. Some Task Force alumni hope Anita truly retires not because they want her out of the picture, but because shes earned it. Board members think she should share her vast knowledge on housing and homelessness with a new wave of activists to fuel future policy changes. Friends have urged Anita to take it easy, maybe draw some portraits, write a book, spend more time with family. But retirement could prove challenging for someone who signs emails with the quote: Apathy, in the face of relievable human misery, is radical evil. When asked about Anitas retirement, Jim smiled wryly. The couple recently took a short trip to South Carolina, and Jim said he heard Anitas cell phone ring 15 times. The calls came from people in need people who needed Anita. She didnt say, Call so and so, Jim said. She helped them. And shell respond as lovingly and as graciously years from now in her last wheelchair days, just as she has for the past 20 years \(at Peachtree\-Pine\).

**12. Letting go** The rattling floor fans drowning out the sound of traffic along Peachtree Street offered little relief from the oppressive heat of early July in Georgia. None of this concerned Anita much. Instead, her eyes locked onto the wooden easel facing the shelters tall bay windows. In a shelter strained for resources, she always made sure to supply clients with art supplies and studio spaces so they could paint. Sometimes shed paint alongside them making shelter clients and staff members sit for her. She moved her paintbrush delicately, touching up two unfinished paintings of former clients. Peachtree\-Pine is planning to host one last exhibition in the centers art gallery four days before the shelter closes. She wouldnt miss it. Instead of holding a grudge against board members, Anita agreed to advise Hartrampf until the keys were turned over on August 28. With a month to go, homeless artists and handymen milled about the shelter chatting with Anita as if she hadnt quit six months earlier. Just then, Hartrampf passed through the art gallery, giving her a hearty hug. She smiled, commenting on his suntan, before shifting the conversation to a pressing matter. By the way, I heard some records are going to be shredded, she said. Lets not OK, Hartrampf replied, cutting her off, suggesting her wish would be met. Not at all, she replied. Not the financial records, not the archives Anitas words were calm, but her hands unconsciously fidgeted. By the end of their conversation, she had tightly wrapped her smartphone in a crumbled piece of yellow legal paper. She smiled wanly at Hartrampf, thanking him before he went about his business. But for the briefest moment, a flicker of fear twinkled in the eyes of a woman who has fearlessly uplifted the poor for more than three decades. This paperwork records of old clients was of vital importance to her. Perhaps preserving it was her way of keeping a small scrap of history alive. Maybe it represented her struggle to run the shelter the way she saw fit. Or maybe it was her last toehold in a beloved community that soon would be gone. The moment passed. Anita stared back at her canvas, at the browns and blues that composed her portraits. Content with her progress, she set her brushes down and walked around the shelter, seeing who else needed help.

Behind the story

**ABOUT THE STORY** Anita Beaty may be one of the most misunderstood people in Atlanta. I realized this after doing hours of interviews with her and dozens familiar with her work over the years. People like to point out the flaws of Peachtree\-Pine. There are plenty. But people forget that she forced Atlanta to reckon with its crisis of homelessness long before the city ever took action and she has helped hundreds of thousands of people. I believe Anitas story has never fully been told before now, and its one that needed to be heard particularly as issues of housing and homelessness remain unsolved. **Max Blau** **Freelance writer** **personaljourneys@ajc.com**


**ABOUT THE REPORTER AND PHOTOGRAPHER** **Max Blau** is an award\-winning Atlanta\-based journalist. He is a Southern correspondent for STAT, the Boston Globe Medias national health and life sciences website, and has written for CNN, the Guardian and Atlanta magazine. His stories often focus on health care, mental illness and addiction. **Hyosub Shin** was born and raised in South Korea. Inspired by the work of National Geographic photographers, he came to the United States to study photography and joined the AJC photo staff in 2007. Past assignments include the Georgia Legislative session, Atlanta Dreams Eastern Conference title game, the Atlanta Air Show and the Atlanta Braves National League Division Series. _Read more of our Personal Journeys at [myAJC.com/personaljourneys](http://www.myajc.com/s/living/personal\-journeys/)._


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