Undernews is the online report of the Progressive Review, edited by Sam Smith, who covered Washington during all or part of one quarter of America's presidencies and edited alternative journals since 1964. The Review has been on the web since 1995. See main page for full contents

June 21, 2009


NY Times - In 1936, Atlanta built Techwood Homes, the nation's first housing project. By the 1990s, a greater percentage of the city's residents were living in housing projects . . . than in any other city in America.

Now, Atlanta is nearing a very different record: becoming the first major city to knock them all down. By next June, officials here plan to demolish the city's last remaining housing project. . .

Over the past 15 years, Atlanta has bulldozed about 15,000 units, spread across 32 housing projects. . .

The elimination of housing projects does not mean the abandonment of public housing. The Atlanta Housing Authority pays for more residents' housing these days than it did in the 1990s. But they are scattered throughout the city in mixed-income communities and private housing financed with vouchers through the government's Section 8 program.

Still, critics of the demolitions worry about the toll on residents, who must qualify for vouchers, struggle to find affordable housing and often move to only slightly less impoverished neighborhoods. Especially in a troubled economy, civil rights groups say, uprooting can lead to homelessness if more low-income housing is not made available. Lawsuits have been filed in many other cities, generally without success, that claim that similar relocations violate residents' civil rights and resegregate the poor. . .

Over all, 195,000 public housing units have met the wrecking ball across the country since 2006, and over 230,000 more units are scheduled for demolition, according to the Housing and Urban Development Department. . .

The housing authority says the overwhelming majority of residents support the relocations. But critics say unsuspecting residents are forced into only marginally better neighborhoods. The vouchers, which usually provide families with $568 to $758 per month, according to the housing authority, are not available to residents with certain criminal backgrounds and are often viewed suspiciously by landlords in wealthier communities.

A large majority of displaced residents settle in 10 of Atlanta's poorest ZIP codes, according to an analysis of housing authority data by Creative Loafing, an alternative newspaper. Only about 20 percent return to their communities once the property becomes a mixed-income development, Mr. Boston said.

"Until you have alternative housing that is affordable, available and appropriate, you have no business going into these communities and destroying them," said Anita Beaty, the executive director of the Metro Atlanta Task Force for the Homeless. "To disperse these people without giving them alternatives is wrong."

The real winners, Ms. Beaty said, are business developers who make fortunes once the projects are torn down and the neighborhoods gentrify. For years, wealthier Atlantans, frustrated by long commutes, have been moving closer to their jobs downtown and, critics say, displacing poorer residents to outlying suburbs. . .


Anonymous Mairead said...

"Urban renewal = n*gg*r removal"
-- James Baldwin

June 22, 2009 10:54 AM  
Anonymous lawd lawd said...

Bill Cosby and Andrew Young just thought all those poor people were inconvenient for the uppity...I mean.. upwardly mobile.

June 22, 2009 7:09 PM  
Anonymous sacred cows. said...

We don't need a white middle and upperclass to exploit poor Black people because now we have a Black middle and upperclass element to do that. So much for the theory that economic success is the key to civilization's advance and success is capitalism.

June 22, 2009 8:19 PM  
Anonymous onward and upward said...

When your'e terribly exploited, you have to realize that some of your own are profiting from your predicament though they're decrying your demise. Unfortunately, what many Americans have been taught, that financial liquidity equates to moral superiority turns out to be rich people's bullshit. If only they wouldn't insist on killing my buzz.

June 22, 2009 8:37 PM  

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