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South programs team up for Atlanta housing bus tour

South programs team up for Atlanta housing bus tour

Published: October 5, 2016

Community member Columbus Ward provides a history of housing injustice in Atlanta

Photo: AFSC / Bryan Vana

Peoplestown residents and supporters circle a block slated for demolition

Photo: AFSC / Bryan Vana

Signs announcing "House not for sale" and "Rezoned for gentrification" line front yards in the neighborhood

Photo: AFSC / Bryan Vana

On Saturday, March 19th, people sprang into action to prevent displacement in Peoplestown. The day began with a bus tour of neighborhoods that will be affected by the Turner Field development deal and  ended with the Peoplestown Rally and March Against Displacement. The bus tour was made possible by support from the Metro Atlanta Democratic Socialists of America and Peoplestown Revitalization Corporation. We are also grateful we had students and professors from Georgia State and Georgia Tech with us on the tour.

We started the day off with introductions to the work that is happening around housing justice in the Peoplestown, Mechanicsville and Pittsburgh neighborhoods. Columbus Ward (top left) discussed his work in Peoplestown with the Peoplestown Revitalization Corporation throughout the years. Residents shared the history of previous development deals in the area and how those neighborhoods have been affected.

First stop on the tour was Stanton Oaks, formerly Boynton Village, in Peoplestown. Sherise Brown shared her experience with Stanton Oaks/Boynton Village. Mrs. Brown explained how tenants organized to make sure that Boynton Village remained affordable even after being bought by a different company. She spoke about her experiences with the tenant association at Stanton Oaks and its renovations, where they ensured that the complex got a new 20-year HUD contract. Folks had the opportunity to ask questions about how to navigate the process.

The next stop on the tour was City Views at Rosa Burney in Mechanicsville. Deborah Arnold shared her background of organizing tenants to protect City Views’ affordable, quality housing. Tour participants then were able to meet staff from Atlanta’s Peace by Piece—an AFSC program whose mission is to support and mobilize Black youth and young adults through political education and organizing in order to realize sustainable, sovereign and equitable communities rooted in Black love. Joel Dickerson and Khadijah Austin, both from Atlanta, spoke about their experience jumpstarting a community program in the area. Farajii Muhammad spoke about his experience heading AFSC’s Peace by Piece chapter in Baltimore, MD.

The final stop on the tour was Tanya Washington’s House: 148 Atlanta Ave. SE in Peoplestown. Once everyone got off the bus we joined Tanya and her neighbors Mr. and Mrs. Darden and Ms. Mattie Jackson on Tanya’s yard, where everyone listened to spoken word and residents’ stories. Along with Georgia State Senator Vincent Fort, our hosts recounted the history of Peoplestown, including recent gentrification and the fight for their block of homes. In solidarity with this fight, participants were asked to rally around the area slated for demolition.

As we marched around the block, we stopped and placed “Rezoned for gentrification” signs in lots where houses used to stand. All of the houses between Tanya’s Dardens’ have been bulldozed. Throughout the march we chanted and sang to let our voices be known to the neighborhood that “we shall not be moved.”

The rally left Ms. Jackson, Tanya and Mr. and Mrs. Darden feeling energized, supported, and filled with a great positive energy. We encourage folks to sign and share their online petition. Big thanks to all who participated!

#peoplestownwillnotgodown

-  Tim Franzen
Atlanta Economic Justice Program