In 2008, the Occupy Movement surged up in Atlanta and around the country in response to the nationwide foreclosure crisis. Atlanta was one of the hardest hit cities in the country and there was not a resident-led housing justice organization to call on at the time. It was from this movement that Occupy Our Homes Atlanta (OOHA) was born, which later evolved into Housing Justice League. A handful of Atlanta residents wanted to use the bold, creative energy from the movement to win victories for real people in the 99%. We shifted from occupying public parks to organizing "Occupations" in front of homes, apartment complexes, places of worship, and small businesses facing foreclosure or eviction. OOHA achieved nonprofit status in 2014. After many victories and a rapidly evolving base and leadership, we decided to broaden our impact by focusing on more neighborhood and citywide issues instead of individual struggles.
In this shift towards more sustainable, neighborhood-focused work, community members conducted the Peoplestown Listening Project to learn about the priorities and perspectives of longtime residents. In response to the feedback we collected, our focus transitioned to organizing for tenants’ rights and building power against mass displacement and gentrification. We changed our organizational name to Housing Justice League (HJL) in 2016. Since then, HJL has worked with over a dozen low income complexes, organizing tenant associations and working with tenants to develop campaigns to improve living conditions. We have also lead development without displacement campaigns such as #BeltLine4All, #RedLightTheGulch, and #TentcityATL. We are excited to keep building a city-wide movement for tenant power and housing as a human right!
From the beginning, the international Quaker peace organization American Friends Service Committee committed to financially incubating the organization as part of their Atlanta Economic Justice Program. This has allowed the organization to grow from a solid financial foundation. We are currently phasing out of this economic partnership and moving towards full financial independence.
We are currently working on a more detailed timeline of our history which we are excited to share soon!