Georgians have voted to help homeless with mental illness

Beyond the debate around Georgia’s election outcome, one result is a clear victory for health care.

Three of four Georgians voted to approve a referendum Nov. 6 that will help nonprofits provide permanent housing to homeless people with mental illness.

Phoenix House

Referendum B allows a property tax exemption for nonprofit housing of these individuals in residences that get tax credit financing from for-profit business entities.

The nonprofit 3Keys will benefit from the vote.

The organization provides 477 residential units in Fulton and DeKalb counties for people with mental illness who have been homeless. Supportive services are offered to the residents.


“We at 3Keys are very pleased with the outcome of the votes in favor of Referendum B,’’ said Darlene Schultz, president and CEO. “3Keys will be able to use the property tax savings to continue our mission of developing and managing permanent supportive housing for the homeless mentally ill in metro Atlanta.”

Because it used a business entity for financing of an Atlanta housing renovation, 3Keys had lost a tax exemption for that property. It had to pay $30,000 in property taxes annually on the renovated property, Phoenix House in west Atlanta, which houses 69 people.

Nonprofits that get tax credits must partner with for-profit entities for financing, Schultz says.

All five amendments on the Georgia ballot and the other referendum were approved by voters. Referendum B, at 77 percent, had among the highest approval rates.

The referendum stemmed from legislation passed by the Georgia General Assembly in 2017.