Letters to the Editor (2) - May 10 2006

Mad about gentry

In her article “The gentry are coming” (cover story, May 4), Mara Shalhoup says that the “Atlanta Housing Authority tore down thousands of public housing units and replaced them with mixed-income developments that offered a fraction of the number of homes for the poor.” What she failed to mention is that these poor were given the option to live anywhere in Atlanta, or the nation — at taxpayer expense, of course — in the form of portable Section 8 vouchers.

-- Chad Carlson, Atlanta

Uno de Mayo

Many of us, as African-Americans, demonstrated with brothers and sisters of all cultures throughout the country on May 1 (“No respect,” May 4) to protest the human rights violations and white supremacist notions promoted in anti-immigration legislation across the United States because we remember that it was not long ago that our ancestors endured forced migration and then were exploited economically once we arrived on these shores (just as many immigrants are today). The government promoted and benefited from slavery and its related crimes against humanity far longer than it has not. Let us not walk blindly as co-conspirators with modern-day enslavers as they exploit and oppress another group of people. Let us not sit by silently and watch as human rights violations continue to occur everyday in our own back yards.

-- The Rev. Roslyn Satchel, Decatur

executive director, National Center for Human Rights Education

No place like home

Coley Ward’s article “Ponce gem may be restored” (April 20) contains several misrepresentations about the 300-tenant community at Briarcliff Summit. As a resident, I would like to reply.

Ward paints a picture of rampant crime throughout the building (as evidenced by all that yellow crime tape over the garbage chute doors during one week last December). Citing an open records request filed by CL, he reveals — oh my gosh — that the police were called to Briarcliff Summit more than 60 times between November 2004 and December 2005. Of those 60 calls, APD filed seven reports of damage to private property, three reports of robbery and one report of a sex offense.

I’d like to see these numbers compared to those of other communities of our approximate size and population. I bet our crime rate is lower. This is not to play down the security problem, because there is one. During the daytime, the building staff sign in and screen every nonresident who enters. On evenings and weekends, however, there has been no one to enforce this rule. Recently, tenants have been manning a desk in the lobby.

But most disturbing by far was the final paragraph of the article. Mr. Ward totally bought the NIMBY strategy espoused by Liz Coyle, vice chair of the city’s Neighborhood Planning Unit-F. Coyle says that she wants what’s best for the neighborhood, and added that, “As a personal concern, I certainly would want to make sure that the residents are looked after and taken care of. From a neighborhood perspective, it is important that the building be taken care of ... .” This is the quintessential cry of those who move their families into neighborhoods because the area is “colorful.” Then they realize that people will ask you for change while you’re walking down the street with your kids and the bars in the area are noisy and attract crowds. Next thing you know, a neighborhood association is formed to extract just that “colorful” element that brought them here in the first place, under the auspices of “just wanting what [they decide] is best for the community.”

I expected more from a journal that in the past has bemoaned the loss of Atlanta’s small communities — and a community we are. Ask the staff at the Publix across the street or at the Majestic; ask at the local library or vendors at nearby stores. I invite you to visit the Summit (you’ll have to sign in with proper ID, of course), and you tell me if the halls are rank, there are homeless in the stairwells or you find evidence of bodily functions in every corner. You might want to check out our laundry facility that is surprisingly spotless, or the group activities, lectures, or the lending library (on your honor), or the on-site social workers. Most of us really like living here.

-- Sage Boucher, Atlanta