An Atlanta clergy organization went above and beyond to bring awareness to the worsening homelessness crisis in the area. 

According to Fox 5 Atlanta, the Concerned Black Clergy of Metropolitan Atlanta, Inc. took on the cold and slept outside various churches in the Atlanta area, pledging solidarity with unhoused people. 

A few members sleeping in a church parking lot pitched tents and started a fire. 

“We’re here because we care,” Bishop Greg Fann told Fox 5 Atlanta. “We’re here because we want to know what it’s like to be homeless.”

Participants told Fox 5 Atlanta that, while they knew they had a long, cold night ahead of them, it was worth the chance that their demonstration would address Atlanta’s homelessness issue, which many noted is happening alongside a growing affordable housing crisis.

“An affordable one-bedroom apartment, the average is $1,400. So, we’re seeing people that are struggling, people that are living in their cars and tents,” Reverend Shannon Jones, the president of the Concerned Black Clergy of Metropolitan Atlanta, explained to Fox 5 Atlanta. “They are trying to make it … people who had homes last year, people who had apartments last year.”

Almost 20 clergy groups in the state spent the night outside. They are asking large corporations to get involved and help solve the area’s homelessness problem.

“Georgia has $11 billion that the governor can use at his discretion,” Jones added. “We need to put our heads, hearts, minds and hands together.”

The groups planned to camp out until sunrise, estimating that to be around 7 or 8 a.m., and support Georgia Sen. Donzella James’ efforts to establish more regulations around rent increases made by landlords.

According to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, 2,679 people experienced homelessness in January 2023, a significant increase from findings the previous year, citing the Point in Time Count that 738 people were sleeping on the streets, and 1,941 people were in shelters during the survey period.