(APN) ATLANTA – An Atlanta activist with the Georgia Task Force for the Homeless requested April 4, 2007, that the Atlanta Housing Authority (AHA) impose a voluntary moratorium on the demolition of the city’s public housing for at least one year.
"I have always felt in my heart, public housing that is available to people who are making minimum wage or less was a godsend," Lynne Griever told the AHA Board of Commissioners during their regular monthly meeting. "How would we ever survive without public housing?"
Several groups are now working together investigating and researching possible legal remedies to stop the demolition, Anita Beaty, Executive Director of the Metro Atlanta Task Force for the Homeles, told Atlanta Progressive News. These groups are consulting and discussing the issue with legal experts.
Meanwhile, local advocacy organizations are mobilizing citizens--particularly the public housing residents themselves--to undertake a campaign of massive, drastic public outcry.
The City of Atlanta is planning to demolish its remaining public housing units that have not already been converted to so-called "mixed-income," mixed-use developments as part of the AHA Quality of Life Initiative, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution newspaper (AJC) reported.
The proposed demolition will cost an estimated $15 million and, once complete, the land will be open for redevelopment. The project will affect approximately 3,000 units and 9,600 people.
"Mixed use, in theory, is great if everybody gets accommodated," Griever told Atlanta Progressive News. "If you move 30 percent of people in public housing into a development with people of higher incomes and leave everybody else out, that’s the part that is offensive."
Unfortunately, too often promises of mixed-income housing prove to leave most, if not all, of the homeless, public housing residents out.
For instance, during the negotiations to demolish the former New Orleans St. Thomas Housing Project in 2002, developers started out promising 50% of the units would be affordable, but in the end only 9% were affordable, one study showed.
Resident leaders from Atlanta public housing have expressed concern over the lack of consultation.
"I think the problem is we don't fully understand what's going on because they didn't include us," Diane Wright, President of the Residents Association at the Hollywood Courts apartment complex, told the AJC.
"That’s absolute insanity in a city where many people cannot find a place to live anyway," Anita Beaty told APN.
The Atlanta Metro region already has a 200,000-unit shortage for people making under $40,000 a year, according to the Atlanta Neighborhood Development Partnership. One-third of households earn less than $40,000 and 63 percent of the region’s jobs pay less than this figure.
"Don’t tear down one more housing unit until there is enough affordable housing for those who are going to be displaced!" Beaty said.
APN obtained a schedule of demolition plans and it appears the first demolition will not occur until early 2008 and continue through 2010.