Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms delivered her 2021 State of the City Address virtually on Wednesday morning, outlining plans to reduce crime, tackle homelessness, continue affordable housing efforts, improve city services and infrastructure, and plans for COVID-19 recovery. Watch her full remarks in the video above.
As the city’s homicide rate has made national headlines, Bottoms said public safety and crime reduction is her top priority. “Mayors and leaders across the country are recognizing gun violence as a public health emergency, and I join them in that sentiment,” she said.
They mayor committed to adding 250 new police officers on the streets in the next fiscal year and $3 million in funding to add 250 camera and license plate readers to the surveillance network, among other initiatives.
She also re-committed to closing and reimagining of the city jail, although the Fulton County Sheriff’s Department has expressed interest in using it for detainees. “This nearly 500,000-square-foot, 17-story-building holds approximately 30 people a night,” Bottoms said. “Reimagining a different use for this facility is a good financial move for the city, but it will also help us tackle issues like homelessness, addiction and mental health, ultimately making our city safer and our communities stronger.”
Bottoms said federal pandemic money would be channeled to communities for rental assistance and committed to providing a permanent and affordable home with wrap-around services for nearly 2,000 individuals and families experiencing homelessness by the end of the year. She said $100 million in new bond funding would be used to support the creation and preservation of affordable homes in Atlanta
As for COVID-19 recovery, Bottoms received her first dose of the vaccine on March 30 and said getting residents inoculated —particularly communities disproportionately impacted by the virus—remains a priority. She encouraged Atlantans to get the vaccine at the Mercedes-Benz Stadium mass site or any of the others around the city. A door-to-door canvas will soon happen in underserved communities for vaccine awareness and assistance—including assistance with transportation and registration.
Mayor Bottoms also outlined initiatives to increase opportunities for young people—including reigniting the city’s Hire Atlanta Youth summer jobs program. The city has hired a Senior Director of Youth Engagement who will partner with Atlanta Public Schools and other organizations to increase opportunities for young people:
She said the city is implementing the One Atlanta Virtual Summer Residency, an “earn-to-learn” program for young people between 14 and 18-years old. There will also be paid internship and employment opportunities for those between the ages of 18 and 24. She called on the business community to provide at least 1,000 job opportunities for young people in Atlanta
The controversial “water boys” – youths who sometimes aggressively sell bottled water at intersections and off-ramps – will get resources for job placement, help in re-enrollment in school, GED assistance, leadership and conflict resolution skill development, wraparound social services and more, Bottoms said.
Bottoms thanked Atlanta’s business community for their resilience during the pandemic. pandemic. “In the midst of a tumultuous year, business attraction, retention and expansion continued,” she said. “We made a positive impact on more than 13,000 jobs in the city, creating new jobs and helping many Atlantans stay employed during this tough economic time.”