FOURTH IN A SERIES
(APN) ATLANTA – The tables are starting to turn, as 200 public housing residents actually took over the Atlanta Housing Authority Fiscal Year 2008 Moving to Work Annual Plan Public Hearing held at Atlanta City Hall to discuss the planned demolitions of all Atlanta public housing.
AHA officials were unable to complete their annual presentation to the public, when advocate Joe Beasley, with the Task Force for the Homeless, stood up and said there were individuals who wanted to speak on the racial impact of the evictions but had to leave.
Mr. Barney Simms, who was conducting the meeting at that point in the program, continued what he had been saying at first.
Beasley repeated his comment. Then, everybody got up and starting clapping and shouting a variety of comments including chants of "Let the people speak!"
"I want to be organized. We don’t want to call Security," Simms said.
Eventually, Mr. Simms, taken aback, said the people could speak but that there would be ground rules including a two minute time limit.
THE PEOPLE SPEAK OUT
"There’s no jobs. All these pretty words about [housing] choice... Is this Black removal?" Joe Beasley, 70, said.
The present reporter next delivered comments on behalf of the APN Board of Directors, which have been reprinted as an Editorial at http://www.atlantaprogressivenews.com/views/0022-views.html.
"It’s so appalling. This is supposed to be a public hearing. How do you sleep at night? The residents of Herndon Homes, we have elected we want to stay," Laura Lawson, President of Herndon Homes Resident Advisory Board (RAB) said.
"Where are the children going to live? Are they going to live under a bridge?" Shirley Hightower, President of Bowen Homes RAB said.
"I don’t have no home to go to. Where am I gonna go to? It is so hard to go to school, earning a 3.0. Working at McDonald’s doesn’t cut it when the gas bill’s $300 a month," Daphne Shaw, said, crying.
"We know between 48,000 and 68,000 Atlantans experience homelessness during a year’s period. We are 200,000 affordable housing units short," Anita Beaty, Executive Director of the Task Force, said. "We cannot afford to lose a single physical unit."
"The whole game with the job requirement... we’re talking about the first wave of displacement. Just because you want to privatize the property... Hurricane Renee [Glover, head of AHA]...What about the people who can’t hold down a job? What about the people who are illiterate? What about their children?" Beaty said.