Soapbox: Preserve the public-housing safety net

By matthew at atlantaprogressivenews.com" rel="external">Matthew Cardinale

Atlanta Housing Authority's plan to destroy all remaining Atlanta public-housing communities in the city is a massive atrocity that will tragically displace families, destroy communities, decrease Atlanta's affordable housing supply and eliminate a precious safety net we're going to continue needing for some time.

Make no mistake, developers are salivating over this land, and that's what this is all about. AHA's role is to confuse, distract and deceive the people of Atlanta, especially the residents, that somehow tearing down public housing is the best thing, even the only thing, possible.

Most Atlanta residents don't realize that when 5,500 public-housing units are removed from a city's housing stock, those people are either pushed into the low-income rental market – either here or in the suburbs – or into homeless shelters.

That means those of us who are already struggling with housing-cost burden – i.e., monthly fear of coming up short on rent — due to the critical lack of affordable housing in Atlanta will now have around 5,500 fewer units to compete for.

Yes, you may say, but the new "mixed-income, mixed-use developments" will surely contain affordable housing, won't they? AHA implies this, but its definition of "affordable" comes from a parallel universe.

To most people, affordable means what's actually affordable to working people in terms of how much they earn and what their other costs of living are.

Instead, AHA's Renee Glover calculates housing policy based on the Area Median Income (AMI). For a family in 2000, the Atlanta AMI was over $55,000.