Best of AP — Honorable Mention


A good news story in homelessness

A dog in a dog run at the Melody greets visitors Friday, April 12, 2024, in Atlanta. The Melody is a housing complex made from shipping containers and is intended to help house people from Atlanta's homeless population. AP PHOTO / JOHN BAZEMORE

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Amid the ongoing housing affordability crisis, stories of hope can be hard to find. R.J. Rico and Jesse Bedayn, two reporters on the housing beat team, found an opportunity to capture one potential cause for optimism with a look at “micro communities” being built for people who had been homeless.

Rico, who is based in Atlanta, had heard about the recent opening of “The Melody,” which consists of 40 shipping containers that were converted into a gated community for people who used to live on the streets of downtown Atlanta.

Researching the issue, Rico realized that Atlanta was hardly alone in opening such a community.

Indeed, it was a growing trend among local officials across the U.S. who want to offer struggling people support, yet also give them privacy and independence. Bedayn, who is based in Denver, noted that similar micro communities had just opened in his city and the mayor was putting a big emphasis on the project.

Rico and Bedayn visited micro communities in their respective cities to meet with officials and speak with residents. Both communities include wraparound services from job training help to health care and beyond. As the story noted these were examples of how cities are turning to “small, quick and cheap” solutions to the entrenched and growing problem of homelessness nationwide.

The story gave a solutions journalism look at the problem of how to give homes to the most vulnerable residents of increasingly expensive cities.

Metrics show it was one of the highest-engaged stories of the week, with readers spending an average of 1:50 reading it. The story even prompted an email from one reader who was so moved she asked for a way to reach out with words of encouragement to the two formerly homeless people featured.

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