Census data shows itself best during election season when the numbers of voters from precincts across the Nation come in. Atlanta, like several major cities in the US are going through a process called gentrification. In the early to mid 80’s Atlanta experienced what some cities call white flight; when masses of white citizens/upper class citizens relocate from a particular community. Of course, the reasoning always varies but has often times connected to economic empowerment, affordable housing, property value, etc.
The challenge that I have with gentrification is that it reinforces the inability of people from various walks of life to be engaged in one community. It demeans the working or middle class families who are hard-working citizens. We still have the notion in our society that you have to be of a certain zip code or race to live in a nice community. We still to it to date. I’ve heard students refer to North Atlanta as the “white side” of town or South Atlanta as the “ghetto”. Several phrases are used to coin the racial and cultural differences of Atlanta, one famous being “from Bankhead to Buckhead!” What happens when Bankhead becomes Buckhead? That’s a question that many SW and NW Atlanta natives and residents are now having to ask. We’ve gone through years of food desserts, advocating for sidewalks for our children to go to school, from economic depression and recession, communities that for many decades have been overlooked are now starting to see attention. Residents want to know why now?
Although the effects of gentrification will be seen for years to come, here are some ways we can ensure that the right thing is done for all residents in our communities:
- Advocating for affordable housing
- Ensuring our seniors have wills, a power of attorney and home owners/life insurance
- Having a plan for the family house
- Understanding the power of homeownership
- Investing with our community and local businesses
- Supporting the public transit system
- Supporting our local public/community schools
- Investing in early learning centers
- Building sustainable neighborhood associations
- Being involved in community town hall meetings