ATLANTA (CBS46) — If you're driving down Buford Highway in Buckhead it would be easy to drive right past Atlanta's largest homeless camp and have no idea it's even there.
The people who call it home, call it a city within a city.
“They refer to this [homeless camp] as 'The Hill,'” said Branden, who has lived on-and-off at 'The Hill' for six months.
Roughly 30 to 40 people reside in the homeless encampment according to those who live there. And it’s basically a small town.
“We don’t really have any money. That’s somewhat of the problem. So we barter and different stuff like that,” Branden said.
'The Hill' has power if people need it, running water, a mechanic, even a shower. And those who need a haircut? There's even a resident barber on site.
“You wouldn’t really know that there’s essentially a civilization back here,” Branden said.
CBS46 reporter Jamie Kennedy discovered the homeless encampment after a bike owner tracked his stolen e-bike to the encampment.
“Once you go up there, there’s mountains and mountains of trash,” Branden said.
Which leads to other problems.
“The bugs are overwhelming, the trash is overwhelming, the rats here are overwhelming, and I mean they’re big rats, they play football at night time,” Branden said.
Many at the camp said they struggle to find any help to get away from the situation, and that leaders are neglecting the issues of mental illness and homelessness.
For the few that do help, such as Reginald Jones, who helps sell scrap metal for residents, they said they are fighting an uphill battle to help homeless people with limited resources.
“They are definitely forgotten about and since they out of sight, they are forgotten about,” Jones said"
“I don’t think there is enough help," said Tracy Thompson, who is part of the The Elizabeth Foundation who aids the homeless at 'The Hill.' "There’s definitely not enough shelters to house people and there aren't shelters that allow for couples, which is huge problem, because there are many homeless couples.”
Thompson said there are more resources for the homeless than before COVID, due to many becoming homeless during the pandemic. She said the hours needed to help the homeless is what is lacking as many who are homeless have trust issues, stemming from disbelief in a system they believe has rejected them.
If people would like to help, Thompson said they are looking for people to clear away the piles of garbage and donate rat traps to help with the large rodent problem.