Atlanta's 11 Least Influential People: No. 9

Creative Loafing’s countdown of Atlanta’s 11 Least Influential People is a tribute to women and men everywhere struggling to meet the challenges of life in a modern American city.

No. 9 — Lashay Butler

Not allowed to ask for help

(photo by Joeff Davis)

Lashay Butler lives on the streets of Atlanta.

The 33-year-old says her children and their father moved while she was out of town and did not leave any contact information. “My family always took care of me. Now I can’t get in touch with them,” she says. “I went to the police department and they said go to a shelter and give them your name. I went, but they said they couldn’t find them.”

The rest of the circumstances that led to Butler’s homelessness are less than clear. She won’t say where she was or what she was doing when her family left. And when asked if she has a substance-abuse problem, she paused and her first answer was a hesitant “No, not really.”

What’s clear, however, is that Butler needs help, from her family, from a friend or from a social worker. And until that happens, she needs help from passers-by.

She needs food. She needs money to buy food. But asking for money for food in parts of downtown Atlanta is a punishable offense, punishable by up to one month in jail, because the city passed an anti-begging ordinance in 2005.

“You can still get a dollar,” she says, but it’s harder since the ordinance. “People wanna call the police on you.”

Visit Fresh Loaf Monday morning for No. 8 on our countdown of Atlanta’s 11 Least Influential People.

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