Bowen Homes Demolition

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Today, protesters from the Metro Atlanta Task Force for the Homeless are holding a demonstration at the Bowen Homes rental office to oppose Atlanta Housing Authority’s Orwellian demolition kick-off party.

This is terribly sad, but we at Atlanta Progressive News did everything we could to prevent it and then some. And some of our readers even got involved, sending emails which we forwarded to HUD when they were considering AHA’s fraudulent, preposterous demolition applications. In the end, HUD approved Bowen Homes and the other communities for demolition, despite concerns raised by APN and others to HUD. All the articles detailing our efforts to save public housing in Atlanta are still available on www.atlantaprogressivenews.com

The Bowen Homes demolition–and the other scheduled demolitions–are a travesty before God. And guess who was standing before AHA two years ago predicting the current economic disaster and the foreclosure crisis? That would’ve been me.

The majority of residents were evicted from Bowen without a voucher. Like in demolitions past, AHA found many reasons to evict residents or disqualify them from receiving a voucher. I can’t say I know what the actual reasons for the hundreds of evictions without vouchers were, but let’s just say public housing residents are held to a higher standard than most tenants on the private market. Probably this includes people late on their rent, people who lost their job, people whose child got into a fight at school, people whose child got caught with drugs, people who let a homeless person stay in their apartment, etc. Literally, hundreds of units were boarded up before they even began handing out vouchers.

Now, what about the voucher program? I’ve been over this before, but the record shows low history of success of former public housing residents on the voucher program, where they will become even more vulnerable to the current economic conditions. No job, no rent, no voucher, no home. Most voucher recipients from previous demolitions lost their vouchers within a few years, according to AHA’s own data. AHA was never able to show that their was available voucher housing in the City of Atlanta, and GSU researchers showed that the voucher housing that was available was concentrated in poor areas.

The other thing is the removal of thousands of permanent affordable housing from the Atlanta housing market, pushing thousands of families into the private rental market where they will compete with other working class people like us for low rents. Also, infusing vouchers–private government subsidies of the private rental market–into the system actually inflates rents for everybody. So there you go, people who supported demolitions, you’ve done yourselves and all of us in.

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