Encampment at Atlanta City Hall Addresses Gentrification
(APN) ATLANTA — On Monday, November 07, 2016, ATLisReady, a coalition of dozens of organizations, distributed a position paper to the City Council of Atlanta and Mayor Kasim Reed on the problems of, and solutions to, Atlanta’s Equity Crisis. Then, they set up a Tent City outside of City Hall, and they stayed through Tuesday morning.
The City too Busy to Hate has become the City too Greedy to Care, activists say.
For decades, Atlanta has systematically displaced poor and working class people, including by demolishing thousands of units of affordable public housing, and by supporting and failing to mitigate gentrification.
As has been reported in depth by Atlanta Progressive News, redevelopment has ignored low and moderate income renters and favored luxury rental units, pushing unaffordable rental prices.
What the City of Atlanta,considers “affordable housing” is deceptive for at least two reasons. First, because it’s based on the Metro Atlanta area, it factors in numerous high income neighborhoods in Sandy Springs and Marietta in the Area Median Income (AMI).
Second, in its most recent trend of public policies, the income levels targeted for production or rehabilitation of units have been at 60 or 80 percent of the AMI, or even higher.
Thus, Atlanta policies have not been reflective of the actual need of low income citizens in Atlanta, who have the greatest unmet needs on the market and are the greatest bracket with housing cost burden.
“AMI should not be up at 60 percent and 80 percent. That deals with people who already have money, not with people who have been marginalized,” State Rep. Mable Thomas (D-Atlanta) told Atlanta Progressive News
At 80 percent AMI, an individual’s rent would be approximately 1,000 dollars per month, and at 60 percent around 800 dollars per month.
A minimum wage worker making $7.25 an hour can only pay about 300 dollars per month in rent and not be considered housing cost burdened.
This disparity has lead to a renters’ crisis for working class Atlantans who can no longer afford to live in the City. Many working poor citizens are living in homeless shelters or in their cars.
The ATLisReady Equity Crisis Policy Priorities paper recommends to replace the Area Median Income with Neighborhood Median Income to accurately measure the need for affordable housing.
ATLisReady demands public accountability for intentionally disadvantaging low/working class families by demolishing public housing and contributing to the regional inequity crisis.
“People will be in an active state of resistance until the livelihood of poor and working class, Black and brown people are prioritized in policy,” Avery Jackson, a Morehouse student with ATLisReady, promised the City Council members.
The complete problems of the equity crisis in Atlanta and solutions from the community can be accessed here: http://www.atlisready.black/equity-crisis-policy-priorities/
The Housing Justice League has released a report on “Renter’s State of Emergency” that you can read here.
After the Council Meeting, a Tent City was raised at City Hall with over fifty people sleeping outside to bring attention to the Equity Crisis and the crisis involving the Metro Atlanta Task Force for the Homeless.
Activists fed homeless people who came up at any point during the encampment.
Atlanta police came by at one point at after 10 p.m., and stayed about fifteen minutes and left.
The Tent City is a continuation of a new, youth-led movement that seems to be emerging in Atlanta, that last month disrupting the Atlanta City Council when they passed Ordinance 16-0-1501 to begin the process of stealing the Peachtree and Pine property through eminent domain.
Atlanta City Councilwoman Felicia Moore (District 9) was the only council member with the courage to vote no on that ordinance. She is running for City Council President in 2017.
“Felicia Moore showed some strengths. The rest are Kasim puppets who do his bidding. The business community and the old money power structure pulls Reed’s strings. They will give you a Black face to run a Black city but the interests are still the White elite minority,” Taiza Troutman, ATLisReady member, tells APN.
“We will not stop until Atlanta is equitable. There are too many people at the bottom suffering and now it is trickling up to people in the middle with people not being able to live in the City anymore. There are no protections for people who are not rich,” Troutman said.
On November 01, 2016, over one hundred people marched from the Task Force for the Homeless at Peachtree and Pine to Atlanta City Hall to oppose the City’s efforts to take the shelter property by eminent domain.
It was also to commemorate Homeless Memorial Day, which started in 1988 when seventeen homeless people froze to death on the streets of Atlanta in one night; and to remember and honor the 57 homeless people who have died in the streets this year.
Peachtree and Pine is an overflow shelter that takes in everyone, including mentally ill people. Homeless people who sleep outside and in abandoned buildings or homes will come to Peachtree & Pine when the weather gets cold.
Cold weather raises the homeless population at the shelter from 500 plus to over one thousand.
“If the temperature drops below 32 degrees and you are not registered and living in a shelter, the other shelters will refuse you entry,” Marshall Rancifer, Founder Justice for All, tells APN.
Councilmember Moore wants the Mayor and other Council Members to answer three questions before they charge ahead and throw hundreds of homeless people out in the middle of winter.
First, where is the feasibility study to show the need for a police station at Peachtree & Pine that was required by previous ordinance? Second, where is the City’s action plan to house all the hundreds of people currently living at Peachtree & Pine. Third, where is the money coming from to pay for all this?
Thus far, they haven’t answered Moore’s questions because they do not have the answers.
“If people desire to close Peachtree & Pine without a plan of action, we are setting ourselves up for a bad situation. I don’t understand why people think that 500 plus people–who have a place to go now but without a place to go–they will disappear?” Moore said.
“Atlanta is heavy with economic development, but they have left out the equity piece. If we continue to go this way, the City cannot sustain and it will crumble at the hands of all of these Council Members and the Mayor,” Troutman predicts.