A public relations firm brought on to help Mary Hall Freedom House fight Sandy Springs’ citations is no longer working with nonprofit. Its departure follows the transitional housing organization’s decision to file a lawsuit against the city that alleges discrimination.
The head of the firm, in an unsolicited email on which Mayor Rusty Paul was copied, lamented the lawsuit and said, “Sadly, the needs of humanity and the wishes of a government aren’t always compatible.”
The city has alleged the nonprofit has broken zoning rules by operating a drug treatment facility, which MHFH disputes. MHFH alleges in its lawsuit, which was filed in December 2018, that the city is targeting minorities and disabled people. The city is defending its citations, saying they are based only on MHFH’s alleged violations of the code.
In the email, Bob Hope, the president of firm Hope Beckham, said MHFH had determined it no longer needed the agency after seeking a “peaceful resolution” failed. The firm had brought together a group of business and local leaders to review the nonprofit and issued a report saying the committee did not find any issues.
“However, even with our heartfelt efforts to organize the ‘expert’ committee [to] address the issues of concern sent to us by Mayor [Rusty] Paul, we were not able to find a course for a resolution,” Hope said. “MHFH determined the need for the federal suit, and also that a public relations agency is not a prudent need for a charity.”
Hope’s agency brought on board civil rights icon and former U.S. Ambassador Andrew Young to help advocate for the nonprofit. Young visited the nonprofit’s housing units in December 2018 for a tour and spoke with the press about his support for MHFH. Hope said he hoped by bringing on Young, a lawsuit could be avoided.
“It is regrettable that the ones who suffer in this situation are good women and children who need other people to be concerned for their welfare,” Hope said.
He said he wasn’t familiar with MHFH’s work or with the city leadership before being hired.
“They only thing I have learned about the mayor is he seems like a nice enough guy, his fellow mayors think he wants to be governor and he likes to sing the national anthem at events,” Hope said. “I have also learned that Mary Hall Freedom House literally saves lives, and the women there are good people who need a break.”