Homes For All Southern Land & Housing Leadership Assembly

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Last week 23 residents, activists and organizers from across the South gathering in Atlanta for the first Homes For All Southern Land & Housing Leadership Assembly.  Members of the Housing Justice League in Atlanta, Cooperation Jackson (Mississippi), Miami Workers Center (Florida), Kentuckians For The Commonwealth and Homes For All Nashville (Tennessee) spent three days learning from each other’s local organizing, getting to know and build trust with each other, developing a collective vision for expanding land & housing organizing across the south, and planning next steps to build regional power towards land & housing liberation.
 
Once grounded in each other’s work, participants broke up into small groups of mixed cities to ask each other What do we want the south to look like for our children / grandchildren?
 
Each group brought back bullet points of what they believe we must be ready to fight for together. While housing as a human right and community control of land & housing were central themes, our collective vision for the south (and the nation) was not limited to land & housing. We talked about our need to fight for a broad and intersectional vision with demands that include a living wage for all, ending mass incarceration and other economic, gender and racial justice issues.
 
We get so comfortable. We get comfortable thinking that the things we take for granted, someone paid a cost for that. It was so amazing to see all of the work, the detailed work that people are doing to create change, and to take that back and get out and fight for our cause.” -Mrs. Sheila, Cooperation Jackson
 
This is the first time, that we know of, that a group of southern organizers and residents have come together to plan a regional organizing strategy for land & housing in the south. The battles ahead will not be easy, but we know we won’t win unless we build intersectional power across movements. Homes For All members across the country understand that to truly secure housing as a human right for all people, our movement must confront and dismantle white supremacy and other systems of oppression and power.
 
From the theft of indigenous land, the enslavement and exploitation of Africans, the denial of land ownership to black and other communities of color, the creation of federal backed GSE’s to support white & suburban homeownership while redlining and dis-investing from entire communities of color, to predatory lending, the destruction of public housing and gentrification of historically black and brown neighborhoods, white supremacist ideology has shaped land & housing policy for centuries.

During day two of the #HFASouth Assembly, we dove deep together to understand the particular and specific ways white supremacy has shaped our communities’ relationships to land & housing in the South. We emerged deeper clarity that Southern people and movements must lead and play a central role in building a regional, national and international movement for land & housing liberation that centers the fight to dismantle white supremacy, win reparations and transform our communities.
 
We unanimously decided to form Homes For All South (#HFASouth) and to move forward with plans to hold a bigger Southern HFA Assembly in Spring 2018 in either Jackson, MS or Nashville, TN.  We plan to bring together as many as a hundred residents, organizers and freedom fighters actively engaged in land & housing struggles along with allies from other movements to train & educate each other on cutting edge organizing strategies, develop shared strategy and grow our movement.
 
Over the next years we plan to recruit and support the development of new housing and land justice organizations including tenant unions, neighborhood organizations and Community Land Trusts, as well as to build deep partnerships across other sectors and movements. By building a unified land & housing movement across the south we can contribute to a broader movement to confront the rise of the neo-confederacy and win land, liberation and freedom for our people. We currently working in different committees to recruit participants, plan the agenda, and figure out logistics for the conference. To see the full story written by Malcolm Torrejón Chu with Right to the City Alliance Click Here.

Residents Fight for their Communities and Offer Solutions

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HJL on the steps of City Hall

On Thursday Oct. 12 Southside residents of Atlanta and Housing Justice League members and supporters delivered a  new report to City Hall showing gentrification and displacement from BeltLine development in Atlanta's historically Black Southside. The report by the Atlanta advocacy group Housing Justice League and Research|Action Cooperative, shows Southside residents are already being displaced by the Atlanta BeltLine greenway development even in neighborhoods that it has not yet touched. The Atlanta BeltLine, which will ultimately be a 22-mile loop of green parks, trails, and streetcars circling inside city neighborhoods along discontinued rail beds, is a force for gentrification and displacement of long-time, low-income residents, many of them Black. 

Proceeding the actual delivery of the report to City Council and the Mayor, participants of the research project gathered with their supporters, City candidates and elected officials, the press, and others on the steps in front of City Hall to hear from Southside Residents. All of the speakers emphasized the importance of community involvement and accountability in city planning in order to meet the critical needs of long-time residents and avoid the historical and continuing patterns of racism, displacement, and disinvestment.

As Alison Johnson, a Peoplestown resident and HJL member who helped author this report, says,

“Communities on the Southside deserve to be a part of the process to shape and determine the neighborhoods where we live. We want the kind of responsible, democratic city building that gives us the best quality of life, not that which is done by and for the wealthy.”

Research by the Atlanta community group Housing Justice League and Research|Action Cooperative, largely in the three historically Black neighborhoods of Adair Park, Peoplestown, and Pittsburgh, tracks the hopes of residents for the BeltLine, how they are actually affected by it, and the forces of gentrification that, if left unimpeded, will damage the economic and racial diversity that long-term residents and newcomers alike say is a strength of the area.

The report – “BeltLining: Gentrification, Broken Promises, and Hope on Atlanta's Southside” – builds upon analysis of census data, a survey, and a year-long participatory action research project. The researchers found that:

  • Residents overwhelmingly want to stay in their neighborhoods,
  • Gentrification has already raised property values and displaced people in historically Black neighborhoods not yet touched by BeltLine development, and
  • Atlanta failed to enact protections against displacement that have been effective in other parts of the country. It still has time to do so as the BeltLine turns its development eye to more of the historically Black Southside.

The report’s major recommendation is for Atlanta BeltLine Incorporated, the public-private partnership leading the development, and the City as a whole, is to embrace more democratic planning processes so that the interests of current residents are incorporated into development, and the supportive networks among neighbors are protected and appreciated.

Housing Justice League is itself helping to model what this kind of planning could look like for the city at large. The community-directed research report is part of Housing Justice League’s broader BeltLine For All campaign, seeking to create spaces that center resident voices and promote community engagement in the development process. The Monday following the press release (Oct. 16), Housing Justice League will officially launch the broader campaign with a community-centered event where people will be able to learn more about the research, connect, and sign up to volunteer and lift up their perspectives through the campaign.

BeltLine for All will seek to curb Atlanta BeltLine Incorporated’s irresponsible record on affordable housing through democratic participation, people pressure, and public policy. Atlanta BeltLine Incorporated was launched in 2005, when the Atlanta City Council, Atlanta Public Schools, and Fulton County all empowered a new Atlanta BeltLine Tax Allocation District to fund both parks and more than 28,000 units of housing – only 5,600 units of it affordable – in neighboring areas. The hope of the BeltLine lies in its initial promises: to spur equitable development and to include a robust affordable housing strategy to prevent displacement.

But as Atlanta BeltLine Incorporated itself acknowledges, almost midway through the 25-year-long development period, fewer than 1,000 units of affordable housing have been built in the area, far short of the original goal, even as housing prices near the greenways are rising faster than in the city as a whole. This means the area is losing far more existing affordable housing than it is creating. And there are no rent regulations or alternative property tax policies to stop the surge. 

To learn more about the policy BeltLine for All will push for to turn around the unjust development practices displacing residents read the full report!

22 Cities, Including Atlanta, Deliver Clear Message Regarding HUD Cuts Today

Today tenant leaders along with members of the Housing Justice League delivered a letter to HUD’s regional office in Atlanta in protest of potential cuts to the HUD budget.

Atlanta is already in the grip of a historic affordable housing crisis and we must oppose the $7.4 billion in budget cuts to the U.S. Department of Housing & Urban Development (HUD) proposed by President Trump and supported by Secretary Carson. If the cuts pass, Miami will be at-risk of losing nearly $24 million each year for housing assistance, and thousands of Miami residents who are currently in HUD-subsidized housing will be in jeopardy of becoming homeless.

Half of all renters in America are cost burdened, paying over 30 percent of their income to housing. This is over 21 million renter households. One in four of these pay over half of their income to housing, leaving no money left over for basic needs like food or childcare. We must expand, not reduce, federal funding for proven HUD programs.

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A safe and affordable place to live is a fundamental human right, and where we live has a direct, concrete impact on the opportunities that are available to ourselves and our children. To change this injustice, we will need the power of people coming together through organizing in local places all across America. We will need to use communities' organizing power to hold government accountable at the local, state and national levels. Good and just public policy can only be developed with the direct input and experiences of those impacted the most by that policy.

After we delivered the letter to HUD's regional office headed to Representative John Lewis' office which is right around the corner from HUD. Congressman Lewis is one of many who has oversight over HUD's budget. 

Today’s action was part of a national effort to prevent cuts to the already underfunded HUD. You can see what actions other cities took by checking out hashtags #NoHUDcuts and #NoCuts on twitter, Instagram, and facebook.

Faith Leaders to Unite at #TentCityATL

On Tuesday evening at 6:30 pm, faith leaders from different communities in Atlanta will hold a prayer session  for Georgia State University and Carter Development at #TentCityATL (755 Hank Aaron drive)On the days following Easter, faith leaders will pray that GSU and Carter respect the NPU-V community members and include them in development of Turner Field and the surrounding parking lots. They will pray that development projects not drive-out longtime residents as they have before. They will pray that Carter and GSU include community voices in a binding social contract that will ensure development benefits everyone in the community.

On April 1st residents of the area marched to the site formally known as Turner Field and set up a tent city. Residents have been staying there in an act of civil disobedience for 18 days through extreme weather and police intimidation. Our ask is simple; include longterm resident voices in the development of the area and so far Carter and GSU has refused to respond to numerous requests for a meeting.

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"For years, we have met with residents across Peoplestown, Summerhill, Mechanicsville, and Pittsburgh to develop a Community Benefits Agreement to ensure that any development on the 80-acre Turner Field property benefits the community and our future generations," explains Deborah Arnold of Mechanicsville who has been camped out since April 1. "More than 1700 of us have partiicpated in community meetings to develop this CBA since the Braves announced thy were leaving, but Carter Development and GSU have refused to meet with us, and instead have slandered us and pushed forward plans for development that doesn't meet community needs."

"We're drawing a line in the sand. We won't allow GSU, Carter, or any other developer to extract wealth from our community. After suffereing through multiple mega developments that promised economic development and delivered broken promises this is our last stand for a community we want to be able to stay in," says long-term resident and Housing Justice League member Alison Johnson and an organizer of the #TentCityATL. "We no longer have anything to lose. If they aren't developing with us, they aren't developing for us."

Since the #TentCityATL began thousands have signed an online petition to bring Carter and GSU to the table and the story has been covered nationally.

Online petition: https://start2.occupyourhomes.org/petitions/support-a-community-benefits-agreement-for-the-turner-field-communities

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#TentCityATL Continues - Day 11

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ATLANTA, GEORGIA -- More than 40 residents of four of Atlanta’s historically black neighborhoods surrounding Turner Field (Peoplestown, Summerhill, Mechanicsville and Pittsburgh) are now in day 10 of a tent city occupation at the site of the former Atlanta Braves stadium in their fight for an accountable community benefits agreement. The fight is quickly becoming a national battleground between community-led organizing for equitable and fair development versus publicly supported luxury development taking place across the nation.

“For years, we have met with residents across Peoplestown, Summerhill, Mechanicsville and Pittsburgh to develop a Community Benefits Agreement to ensure that any development on the 80-acre turner field property benefits the community and our future generations,” explains Deborah Arnold of Mechanicsville who has been camped out since April 1. “More than 1700 of us have participated in community meetings to develop this CBA since the Braves announced they were leaving, but Carter Development and GSU have refused to meet with us, and instead have slandered us and pushed forward plans for development that doesn’t meet community needs.” 

Last year the City of Atlanta sold the public stadium site to Carter Development and Georgia State University. Despite countless asks they have refused to meet with residents and resorted to spreading lies through the media about residents intentions, including implying that all residents want is a cash payout. Such a request has never happened.

“We didn’t make this decision to pitch tents lightly,” says Columbus Ward of Peoplestown. “We have families, we have jobs, we have responsibilities. But at the end of the day, Carter, GSU & the city are threatening the very existence of our neighborhoods. This is a fight for our future. For our right to remain and thrive. We refuse to be seen as commodities. We are real people.” 

On Monday residents will get a lift from students of Georgia State University who are organizing an action to call on GSU President Mark Becker to support local residents demands and urge Carter to negotiate a CBA.

“We’re drawing a line in the sand. We won’t allow GSU, Carter of any other developer to extract wealth from our community. After suffering through multiple mega developments that promised economic development and delivered broken promises this is our last stand for a community we want to be able to stay in,” says long-term resident and Housing Justice League member Alison Johnson and an organizer of the #TentCityATL.  “We no longer have anything to lose. If they aren’t developing with us, they aren’t developing for us.”

#TentCityATL is the latest in what are becoming increasingly regular and escalated fights led by working class communities and communities of color to push back against privately funded, publicly supported luxury development across the nation. In March, teenagers from Boston’s Egleston Neighborhood led a 3-night sit-in at the Mayor’s office to demand increased affordable housing and community engagement for development projects in their neighborhood. On March 31, Pittsburgh residents announced a major victory in their campaign to stop the the replacement of 300 units of affordable housing in the historically black East Liberty neighborhood when they got Whole Foods to back out of the development.

Some Atlanta residents aren’t waiting on the city, and are taking the fight to the ballot box. Tanya Washington -- a Peoplestown resident currently under threat of eminent domain related to the Turner Field development -- announced Thursday, she will run for city council after discovering that the city council member that represents her neighborhood has received campaign support from Carter Development.

“We’re not going anywhere,” says #TentCityATL and Housing Justice League organizer Alison Johnson. “Come down and join us. We’re planning actions for May Day, hosting movie nights and building community.”

There has been push back. One needs to look no further than the Peoplestown Next Door website to see all kinds of wild accusations about the #TentCityATL efforts. Although the draft Community Benefits Agreement has zero asks for pay out to individuals or organizations, newer white neighbors continue to claim the effort is about a cash grab. The reality is the Carter and GSU stand to extract billions of dollars from the up and coming neighborhoods and while this might excite already affluent homeowners it has produced a palpable anxiety amongst long term residents that have called these communities home for generations.

Monday night, a number of students and long term residents held a sit-in at GSU president Mark Becker’s office hoping to facilitate a meeting between Becker and longterm residents. Becker refused and instead had folks in the group, including former state house rep Douglas Dean , who has lived in the Pittsburgh neighborhood for over 50 years. As this blog post is being published, they have yet to be released.

One of the things we often hear is that gentrification is inevitable but around the country regular everyday people are fighting back and winning. #TentCityATL is a line in the sand around the issue of gentrification and mass displacement. At its core is the notion that those that live in a community should have a voice in what happens in it, that residents are not disposable, that there can be room for everyone to survive and thrive.

What can people do to support #TentCityATL?
1. 
Sign and share the online petition byclicking here
2. Donate to the #TentCityATL effort
3. More than anything there is a need to have folks there. there are regular events organized at #TentCityATL like this one. Donate an hour, donate a day, pop a tent and stand in solidarity with one of the most important fights in the city

Tent City at Turner Field

After the Braves announced that they would leave Turner Field, residents of the Summerhill, Peoplestown, Pittsburgh, and Mechanicsville neighborhoods met to discuss what they imagined could become of the almost 80 acres.

Over the course of 3 years, over 1700 residents and countless experts gave input on a Community Benefits Agreement (CBA) that would ensure that the community’s voice would be included in future development projects. The CBA ensures that whatever ends up at Turner Field will not displace long term residents who are loved and needed in their community.

Georgia State University and Carter Development have now purchased Turner Field. GSU and Carter have refused to meet with residents, however, despite many community groups’ attempts to reach out and initiate conversation. Moreover, GSU and Carter have resorted to spreading lies through the media about residents’ intentions, implying that all residents want is a cash payout, though residents have never made such a request.

Residents have drawn a line in the sand, however, and simply will not allow GSU, Carter, or any other developer to extract wealth from their community- one that has suffered through so many bad developments over the years. Residents demand to have a voice and a binding agreement about how their community is developed.

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That’s why residents and GSU students are taking a stand by organizing a Tent City, and we invite you to join! Follow the Turner Field Community Benefits Coalition and the Housing Justice League on Facebook for updates!

You can support the tent city in several ways!

1. Sign the online petition here!

2. Come down and spend time at the Tent City, 755 Hank Aaron drive, it's a 24 hour occupation and the more people present the more powerful we are!

3. There are a lot of expenses and you can help by making a donation and spreading the word! Click here to donate!

4. Call Carter Development (404-888-3343) and GSU (404-413-1300) and tell them that residents aren't disposable. Sign a Community Benefits Agreement!

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Turner Field Neighbors Disrespected and Threatened with Arrest at Carter International Development

Today residents with the Turner Field Community Benefits Coalition delivered a petition to Carter Development urging the developer to sit with long term residents to negotiate a Community Benefits Agreement. The petition delivery was organized as a result of Carter's CEO Scott Taylor’s refusal to meet with the coalition. The coalition, which is comprised over 30 organizations in the community has been trying to have open communication with Carter and GSU ever since the sales process begun. To date, the only residents Carter and GSU have been willing to meet with are homeowners in Summerhill who are primarily interested in their own property values.

“We want development in our community- we just ask to be included as there’s a history of broken promises from developers in Atlanta. We want to know that development in our community works for both new and long-term residents, and a binding Community Benefits Agreement (CBA) is a huge step in that direction.” Stated long term resident and coalition member Alison Johnson.

Once residents showed up to Carter Development's office to deliver the petition, they were met with extremely aggressive building representatives that threatened to arrest them immediately. Some staff even put hands on residents who intended to deliver a petition to Scott Taylor.  Residents decided to kneel down and pray for their community, but building staff seemed set on yelling over clergy’s prayer. Security loudly yelled, “Get out now!”, as Imam Furqan A Muhammad with the Masjid Al Muminun Mosque in Peoplestown led the group in prayer.

What could have been a simple petition delivery urging a conversation with residents ended up highlighting the extreme disrespect and disdain that Carter Development, GSU, and some city officials have demonstrated through the whole Turner Field sale process. If Atlanta is going to be a city that works for everyone then this unsustainable, backroom deal approach to mega developments must change.

Carter and GSU along with Atlanta city officials did not plan the purchase with community members. This was a backdoor deal, which as stated above, has many conflicts of interest. Officials disrespected the democratic process used to create the CBA, ignored the communities, and refused them a seat at the table. They took the alternate route and bypassed the people because they decided the people don’t matter. 

Many residents are disappointed and scared of what this may mean for their community. “This is a hostile takeover of our communities for profit. This is ethnic cleansing,” noted resident and organizer Sherise Brown. "These back door deals happen because low-income, minority communities and long-term residents are not valued as stakeholders and partners. Instead we are looked down upon by outsiders.” 

For fifty years, the communities surrounding Turner Field have been neglected, an almost forgotten footnote in Atlanta’s race to prove it is the “city too busy to hate.”

Once thriving neighborhoods fell victim to the economic priorities of others: busy interstates divided communities and families; stadiums rose and fell, flooding communities with crime and raw sewage; local schools were neglected and underfunded; and promises for positive development were as empty as the scores of parking lots that litter the area.

Now, there is a once-in-a-generation opportunity to change all this.

It’s called the Turner Field Community Benefit Agreement (CBA). A Community Benefits Agreement is a legally-binding contract with the developer that describes mutually-agreed and enforceable goals for the development project. This agreement is driven by local residents and the over 40 community organizations that make up the Turner Field Community Benefits Coalition.

What would a CBA mean for our communities? A world of difference–for everyone. A well implemented CBA could alleviate flooding; improve transportation and create new public space; provide jobs for residents and create opportunities for training, education and services for people of all ages; create housing for people of all incomes and prevent displacement of existing residents; and make our streets and communities safer and cleaner, while providing places to shop for people in the neighborhood.

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Activating Tenant Power

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On Thursday, Feb. 2nd, the Housing Justice League launched its new tenant leadership development training series. The series will take place every month at different apartment complexes, and include smaller trainings in between each month based on the needs of each complex.

The first training was held at Cityviews at Rosa Burney in the historic Mechanicsville neighborhood. Established resident leaders and new tenants came together to learn how to strengthen the City View tenant association, and how to connect with other tenant associations for victories around better HUD contracts, improved living conditions, and stronger Atlanta-based affordable housing policy. The trainings are open to any tenant who wants to begin the process of building or strengthening a tenant association or tenant union.

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If you are a tenant that would like to receive training, there are two ways to go about it. You can message the Housing Justice League at housingjusticeleagueatl@gmail.com about attending the next scheduled training, or you can inquire about hosting a training at your complex. The Housing Justice League provides training services at no cost. Now more then ever, Atlanta needs a tenant movement to combat rising rents and unbridled development. The Housing Justice League is committed to building this movement, one tenant association at a time. 

Job Announcement: Vista Tenant Organizer

We have a new opportunity for a passionate person who's down to organize tenants. There's a ton of training involved so experience isn't required but it is appreciated.

VISTA Tenant Organizer

The Housing Justice League seeks a VISTA Tenant Organizer to organize tenants in privately-owned, multifamily developments subsidized by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to save and improve their homes as affordable housing. The position is through the Americorps VISTA (Volunteers in Service to America), a federal program which pays full-time VISTA Volunteers a one year renewable stipend to empower people in low income communities. The position is for one of two VISTAs assigned to MAHT.

HJL is a tenant-led organization that harnesses the power of tenants to save their homes and strengthen tenants rights in HUD Housing. HJL has helped tenants save thousands of apartments as affordable housing, through tenant organizing. By joining HJL, tenant groups increase their collective bargaining strength with owners, management, HUD and other agencies.

HJL seeks a VISTA Tenant Organizer to firm and strengthen tenant councils in Eastern Massachusetts HUD developments where there is a risk of loss of affordable housing or substandard conditions. VISTAs will door-knock, leaflet, identify and recruit community leaders, educate tenants about tenant rights and HUD subsidy programs, and help tenants preserve and improve their homes. HJL VISTAs will receive training and participate in a national movement to preserve affordable housing through NAHT, including 33 VISTA organizers in cities across the U.S.

Qualifications:
• Commitment to social change and empowerment of lower income people
• Experience in community/tenant organizing and outreach helpful
• Ability to understand and translate complex issues into understandable terms
• Ability to read and write clearly and concisely
• Ability or willingness to speak in front of groups
• Experience in planning and conducting meetings
• Ability and willingness to work with diverse groups of people and engage in door-to-door outreach
• Availability to work evenings and weekends as needed
• Spanish, Russian, or Haitian Creole bilingual capacity helpful, but not required
• Access to a car helpful, but not required

Education Requirements:
• High School Diploma or Equivalent
• College Degree Preferred

Employment Type:
• Full time

Salary Details:
• VISTA Organizers are paid a monthly stipend of $1,333 in the Atlanta area. In addition, at the end of service, VISTAs will receive their choice of either an education award of $5,775, or an alternative cash stipend of $1,500 awarded for every year of service.

Benefits:
• Education award, student loan forbearance, health benefit program, child care benefits, life insurance, paid leave/sick time, MBTA pass, rental assistance, income disregard (public benefits).
o If you were receiving or wish to receive government assistance, such as food stamps, before joining VISTA, that assistance cannot be taken away or reduced as a result of your VISTA allowance. To keep the assistance, you may need to show an "Income Disregard Letter," to the agencies that provide the services.

How to Apply:

Please send your resume and cover letter to housingjusticeleague@gmail.com or send application materials to:

American Friends Service Committee
75 Marietta, Ga 30303 Suite 500 attn: Tim Franzen

Turner Field Neighbors and Students Unite: TFCBC Takes a Stand Against GSU/Carter Development

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On Tuesday, Jan.17th, one day after Atlanta celebrated MLK day, Turner Field Community Benefits Coalition (TFCBC) residents and students packed City Hall to speak out against Turner Field stadium purchasers. On Dec.31st, 2016, Georgia State University and its development partners closed a purchase deal to acquire Turner Field stadium and its surrounding lots. This deal, however, did not include the detailed Community Benefits Agreement TFCBC has researched and arranged over the past two years. GSU and Carter Development have taken a stance of non-negotiation, and no-CBA, despite active outreach by Turner Field residents to the contrary.

The refusal to include a Community Benefits Agreement in the purchase deal, first through the sale by the City, and later in the purchase by GSU, has created a climate of non-negotiation. Without a CBA, there is no guarantee that development in and around Turner Field will not displace families, nor economically benefit residents who remain. The welfare of the Turner Field Neighborhoods, and especially its most low-income residents, has been dramatically de-prioritized by the City of Atlanta, and their future neighbor, Georgia State University.

In response to these actions of disregard, on Tuesday, residents and students spoke out. Protest began when Mayor Kasim Reed took the podium at City Hall. Dozens turned their backs in silence to Reed, who has overseen the stadium’s sale and its subsequent (mis)allocation of purchase funds. They remained standing throughout Reed’s speech, physically filling most of the audience space. Reed exited the council, but not TFCBC’s protest. 

Residents and students again took the floor during public comment. For nearly four hours, Morehouse and Spellman College students, Peoplestown residents, GSU students, NPU-V district chairs, and Housing Justice League organizers spoke out against the CBA’s absence in the Turner Field purchase deal.

Senator Vincent Fort detailed the history of the Turner Field neighborhoods, and how the purchasers’ refusal to sign a CBA was only the latest in a string of unfriendly developments. “The residents of Peoplestown and beyond have been put under the thumb of developers for far too long. Their priorities for their community need to be raised up. The Turner Field Neighborhoods demand a Community Benefits Agreement that acknowledges their humanity. No CBA, No Deal!”

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“Without the CBA in the sale of Turner Field, the community was not promised safety, not promised job security, not promised the right to stay in their homes. It is violent that the City of Atlanta would undertake such a sale, in complete disregard of residents’ welfare,” noted Agnes Scott activist Idil Hussein.

Throughout the comment session, speakers gave statements of high intensity that directly addressed the City and GSU’s failure to negotiate with residents. Spellman activist Eva Dickerson indicted City Council representatives as unsatisfying black female role models, and highlighted the need for non-official black woman activists to take on leadership and direct political change. GSU activist Sam Hogan recorded dissatisfaction with Georgia State University and Carter Development for continuing to undercut residents. HJL staff member and tenant organizer Sherise Brown demanded greater transparency from the City in its development negotiations. “The City only met with a few residents from Summerhill during the purchase negotiation…and the same with GSU and Carter. This hand-picking of residents does not give other neighbors the opportunity to voice their concerns…and it leads to purchase deals like this one, with no CBA.”

Morehouse activist and ATL is Ready organizer Avery Jackson noted during public comment, “This loud, clear-spoken collection of students standing alongside black communities against city-wrought gentrification…this is the new unchained, unregulated politics of 2017. We are not here to ask questions or demand change. We are here to re-set the negotiation table so that community voices can never not be heard.”

Public officials and development stakeholders have often argued that any Community Benefits Agreement negotiation is cost-prohibitive. But, they fail to acknowledge that the investments and priorities addressed by the CBA could be funded entirely from the sale proceeds of Turner Field.

“The sale has thus far generated at least $30 million in revenue, but has been invested into another corporate-sponsored stadium rather than the Turner Field Neighborhood communities. Eminent domain law has been used as a tool of urban gentrification, allowing the City to land-grab from the Turner Field neighborhoods,” noted Housing Justice coordinator Tim Franzen and PRC president Columbus Ward. Short of revising the eminent domain ruling and regaining land, TFCBC members seek to orient the development process in ways that would benefit the community. Repaved streets, better insulated schools, and more fresh produce-carrying grocery stores would all be small examples of such a process, and indeed, are the objectives of a CBA.

After the speakout ended, students took to the chamber floors for a sit-in. They broadcast a Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King speech as councilmembers conducted their affairs, twirled car keys, drew silent attention to Councilwoman Carla Smith, and altogether unsettled business as usual. This creative resistance will amplify if and as the Turner Field purchase deal moves forward without a Community Benefits Agreement. TFCBC activists are redoubling their commitment to stop inequitable development in their community.   

Sign and share this petition supporting a Community Benefits Agreement!

 

Residents and GSU Students Threaten to Block Turner Field Development if Binding CBA Not Agreed Upon

As the final sale agreement for Turner Field is set to be completed by the end of the year, the surrounding communities of Summerhill, Mechanicsville, Peoplestown, and Pittsburgh still have no binding Community Benefits Agreement.

Today Turner Field area resident and GSU students meet at the capitol to send a clear message to the city and the developers of the Turner Field property.

“As residents, we simply can't afford another development project that further displaces our community members and has no real community engagement, and no real accountability to our neighborhoods”, stated longtime Peoplestown resident Alison Johnson.

Public officials and development stakeholders have argued that any Community Benefits Agreement negotiation is cost-prohibitive, but fail to acknowledge that the investments and priorities addressed by the CBA could be funded by proceeds from the sale of Turner Field. The sale is expected to generate at least $30 million in revenue, but instead of investing in our communities, our public officials are investing in yet another stadium. That land was stolen from our community through eminent domain and urban renewal, and we demand that it be returned to the neighborhoods that have lost so much across so many decades.

“Students of GSU stand in solidarity with the Turner Field Community Benefits Coalition. We will do everything in our power to ensure that President Becker sits and negotiates a Community Benefits agreement with the coalition. President Becker should expect a good fight from students on this. It is our responsibility to ensure our tuition does not go to a purchase that will not benefit the communities it will affect”, stated the United Students Against Sweatshops, a TFCBC ally.

“If we must set up a tent city, we will; if we must chain ourselves to construction equipment, we will; if we must fill the jails over and over, we will. We are prepared to do whatever it takes to stop yet another questionable and inequitable development project in our community, and we call on everyone to stand with us in our time of need!” Stated longtime Peoplestown resident Columbus Ward.

Graduation Ceremony Disruption Serves as a Public Warning

On Wednesday, Dec, 14th, members of the Turner Field campaign coordinated a direct action at Georgia State University’s mid-year commencement ceremony. During the University System Chancellor Hank Huckaby’s commencement address, residents and students intervened with chants of “Dr. Becker, do the right thing” and “CBA or no deal.” Their chorus sounded through the Georgia Dome, and received focused attention from Hank Huckaby and Mark Becker. Huckaby berated the protestors, and incited police officers to remove them from the seating area.  

Asma Elhuni, JT Pennington, and Athri Ranganathan were pushed out of the Dome and taken to a holding room. There, they were detained and interrogated by police for two hours. The encounter was largely non-confrontational, though officers handcuffed Ranganathan and claimed he was lying about his name, date of birth, and social security number. After a delayed acceptance of Ranganathan’s information, officers issued criminal trespass notices to all three individuals. Asma, JT, and Athri are currently under a two-year ban from entering Georgia State University property. They are amidst discussions on how to fight this heavy-handed ruling.

The administration's back-turning to Turner Field residents, unwillingness to negotiate, and drowning of voices has incited community anger. The action was an intentional jab at GSU President Mark Becker and his refusal to discuss a Community Benefits Agreement with Turner Field Neighborhood residents. The threat of GSU-sponsored displacement of Turner Field residents is imminent, and must be countered. The Housing Justice League and its allies stand against the removal of Turner Field residents from their homes. It will continue this fight as the purchase deal moves forward and effects ripple through the Turner Field neighborhoods.

GSU is finalizing its purchase of the Turner Field stadium on Dec. 31st. The Turner Field campaign, a broad coalition of residents and students, is fighting for this purchase to benefit the community. The Community Benefits Agreement for which it is fighting ensures that GSU must gain community consent before developing the Turner Field stadium. The campaign prioritizes the right for residents to remain in their homes and for the community to regain legal ownership over its property. Turner Field residents demand that their voices be lifted up and seriously considered.    

 Residents and students gave a public warning to Mark Becker and his administration on Wednesday. The campaign commits to continuing action until GSU seriously engages residents and their demands. There is much at stake in the purchase deal, including the future of the Turner Field neighborhoods-- it cannot be taken lightly. 

Peoplestown Residents Send Clear Message, "We Will Not Be Moved!"

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On Monday, Nov. 21st, residents of Peoplestown and Housing Justice League members marched to the Atlanta City Hall to testify in front of City Council members who voted to authorize eminent domain proceedings against Mrs. and Mr. Darden and Tanya Washington. Protestors brought “Thanks-taking” themed posters plastered with the face of Mayor Kasim Reed, highlighting Reed’s gentrifying tendencies and impassivity in meeting with residents. The contingent group outside City Hall was only a small part of the 6,000+ signatories who signed a petition supporting Tanya and the Dardens’ resistance to displacement.

Tensions came to a head in City Council, where individuals on both sides of the displacement issue spoke their opinions. Peoplestown residents who supported building the park, and thus the displacement of Tanya and the Dardens, reiterated their concern for flooding in the neighborhood and beliefs that park construction would subside flooding. They cited conversations with engineers and watershed department officials who suggested the park construction was a useful response to the flooding. Indeed, many of these residents were well-dressed white professionals.

Following their narratives, Tanya Washington spoke. Many of her supporters yielded their speaking time, giving Tanya 16 minutes at the podium. Articulate, visceral, and honest, Tanya spoke about the timeline of park construction within the neighborhood and her commitment to staying in her home. Tanya highlighted that the current park construction plan was not the best plan possible. Initial drafts of park construction placed it close to the Turner Field stadium, away from the 100 block of Atlanta Avenue. She noted the City wished to advance this park plan because they had already displaced most residents on the block. “But going forward with a wrong displacement project doesn’t make it right,” Tanya noted.

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The city’s legal takeover of the block is un-coincidentally occurring with the sale of Turner Field, Tanya noted, and hints at a larger project of making over the Peoplestown neighborhood. This may not be problematic, except that it is happening at the expense of long-time black homeowners and for the benefit of wealthier white homeowners. The force of gentrification is heavily suggested by the fact that most of the pro-park advocates in City Hall were white, and at least in their immediate dress, white-collared, while the displaced residents have been older, black, and medium to low income. The City’s legal takeover of the Peoplestown block is a dangerous precedent in Atlanta, where resident-displacements in other neighborhoods, such as Vine City, are foreseeable and looming.

Park development without displacement in Peoplestown is not only possible, but has been recommended. At the beginning of the building process, the Department of Watershed had nearly twenty-two site options to choose from when deciding a location. Building on some of these site locations would not have required resident-displacement at all. Nonetheless, the City advanced with building on the 100 Atlanta Avenue block, more or less evicting the majority of its residents. Even now, in the final stages of the block takeover, displacement need not continue. Housing Justice organizer Tim Franzen noted that developers already plan to build around resident Mattie Jackson’s home, which sits in the middle of the block. If this is possible, Franzen noted, it is also possible to build around the block-corner homes of the Dardens and Tanya Washington. Even amidst the City’s relentless displacements and subsequent public defacing, it is possible for the City to maintain dignity—by not displacing the Dardens and Tanya.

After the public testimonies, residents and Housing Justice members walked to Mayor Kasim Reed’s office in an attempt to meet with the Mayor and request his intervention in the eminent domain proceedings. His office doors were locked, however, even though Reed was visibly present in the mayor’s room. For half-an-hour, Housing Justice remained outside the office calling for the Mayor. But the Mayor’s Office denied communication, and Kasim Reed did not speak with residents.

The eminent domain proceedings will be taken to court in the coming weeks, and Tanya Washington has promised a strong resistance. “These displacements are being fueled by a project of economic development rather than public safety,” she noted, “and will likely benefit private developers among others. Somebody is receiving large sums of money from this process, and it’s not the residents.” As Peoplestown residents continue fighting against displacement, the Housing Justice League remains relentlessly by their side. Testimonies and actions will continue as long as necessary to keep the Dardens and Tanya Washington in their homes.

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Peoplestown Residents Stand Up to Mayor Reed's Use of Eminent Domain

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On Thursday, Nov. 17th, a group of Peoplestown residents and the Housing Justice League rallied together at the house of resident Tanya Washington, bringing attention to the eminent domain proceedings brought against Washington and her neighbors. In front of reporters and cameras from various television stations, Washington led the charge in explaining the issue at hand.

The city of Atlanta is using “eminent domain” as a legal maneuver to redevelop a block in Peoplestown. The City cites street flooding as a primary reason for neighborhood redevelopment-- but it is simply a rouse. In the areas of Peoplestown hit hardest by flooding, notably the Turner Field stadium parking lots, the City has chosen to NOT redevelop. Early drafts by engineering consultants suggested a park and pond be built besides the stadium and AWAY from the neighborhoods. But, the City has avoided this, and chosen instead to forcefully displace Peoplestown residents so they may build atop their homes.

Commenting on this situation, Washington noted, “We have lawyered up, and are ready to take on the City. If the city wins this fight, they can set a dangerous precedent of taking over neighborhoods via eminent domain. It’s important that we win this legal battle and show that neighborhoods can defend themselves. We have a good legal and advocacy team, so I am confident in our abilities. Get ready.”

Alongside Washington, residents and allies held signs that read “Stop displacement,” “Mayor Reed, do the right thing,” and “Our homes are not for sale.” The rally echoed actions in the past, when housing justice members called Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed to prioritize neighborhood residents over profit, and not displace people in the name of city beautification. Actions in this campaign once again will be directed towards City Hall and the Mayor’s Office, urging for policy that creates an Atlanta for all.

Longtime Peoplestown resident Mrs. Darden was perhaps the rally’s energy source. With a loud and resonating voice, she led the group in civil-rights era chants and declarations. Gathering the crowd together and pushing their spirits forward, Mrs. Darden (and her husband Mr. Darden) represent the best of the Peoplestown neighborhood, and who exactly is at stake in this fight against displacement. Despite the enormity of the task ahead, Mrs. Darden spoke with only strength and certainty. “We will stay in our homes,” she said repeatedly. “And we will not be moved.”

Sign and share the online petition.

Action continue on Monday, Nov. 21st. Residents and housing justice members will testify and protest against councilmembers who voted to put residents outside their homes-- including Councilperson Carla Smith who introduced the ordinance authorizing eminent domain in Peoplestown. This will be followed by a sit-in at the Mayor’s office to demand that he stop litigation and use his executive authority to keep residents in their homes. The Housing Justice League invites supporters to attend these events, and get out the word to friends, family and colleagues, in person, through phone, and via social media.  

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Letter to the Beltline: We Support Ryan and Nathaniel

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October 5, 2016

Last week, Ryan Gravel, credited as the brainchild behind the Atlanta Beltline and Nathaniel Smith, founder of the Partnership for Southern Equity, submitted resignation letters to the Atlanta BeltLine Partnership. They cited concerns about affordable housing along the growing trail, and a lack of pedestrian green space. The Housing Justice League would like to commend Ryan Gravel and Nathaniel Smith for taking a principled stand. Affordability along the Beltline has become a growing issue-- its popularity is raising housing prices and exacerbating concerns that have already displaced long-term residents. It threatens to make Atlanta even more unaffordable for low to moderate income residents.

Atlanta Beltline, which oversees the development of what will be a 22-mile loop through the city, has said it hopes to raise $7.5 million to encourage affordable housing development. In their resignation letters, Gravel and Smith noted, however, that “funding is far from what is needed." For example: The recent announcement of $7.5 million from TAD bonds will likely support fewer than 200 affordable units out of ABI’s obligation to 5,600. When compared to the need, the pair said, current funding “is a drop in the bucket”. As the economy roars back to life, and the city accelerates, this work is increasingly urgent. Gravel and Smith mentioned they feel strongly that, "our attention must be channeled directly toward it.”

It is clear; the city of Atlanta has made little effort to hold the Beltline developers accountable. The developers have built exclusively luxury housing, creating a period of unbridled wealth extraction from communities that have only recently begun strong economic development. The Beltiline's unfolding makes us wonder, 'What type of city we will be left with, if the Beltline continues to develop without accountability to communities it profits from? The Beltline is a reality, and there seems to be no turning back from this popular city project. Huge rent hikes and displacements have already occurred around the completed sections of the Beltline. If Atlanta is to be a city that works for everyone, we simply cannot afford to allow the Beltline to continue to develop in its current fashion. We hope this serves as a wake-up call to the City of Atlanta, City council, Mayor Reed, and Paul Morris. It is time to hold developers accountable to their commitments.

In conclusion, we support Ryan Gravel and Nathaniel Smith for their courageous efforts to seek equity and equality for all.

With Love and Power,
Housing Justice League

Atlanta Declared a Renter's State of Emergency

Atlanta is in a renter’s state of emergency. How many of us have engaged in or overheard conversations with folks in our city about the rising rents and rapidly changing face of our city? Development doesn’t have to be a bad word, but what we are seeing in Atlanta right now is the kind of development and wealth extraction that will leave Atlanta totally unaffordable for low and moderate income people.

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On Tuesday July 12th at 11am on the Trinity side of Atlanta City Hall the Housing Justice League released our, “Renter's State of Emergency” report and declared Atlanta a state of emergency for renters and low income homeowners. After the press conference we presented the report to City Council members. 

Some of the report’s findings include:
*Since 2012 Atlanta has lost 5% of its affordable housing every year
*95% of Apartments built since 2012 have been considered luxury
* 72% of Atlanta neighborhoods are considered gentrified or gentrifying
* More than 53% of all renters in the city pay more than 30% of their income on housing, yet many landlords require proof that tenant income exceeds 3x rent

The Rally and Press Conference kicked off with welcoming and introduction to the report from Deborah Arnold. Senator Fort then spoke declaring that "We need to build an Atlanta for everyone." Senator Fort was then followed by stories from those who have been most affected by Atlanta's Renter's State of Emergency.

Autumn Rivers, Atlanta Native and a college student a Bard College, spoke about her experiences growing up in Atlanta, being evicted, and hoping to move back to Atlanta after College, but not being sure if she will be able to afford to.

Avery Jackson said, "There are systemic intersections of how black people and low income folks are not prioritized in this city." and declared "it is a renter crisis in the city of Atlanta."

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Nashia Clemons and Rosalind Hemphill, work and make $7.25 an hour and are both homeless.  Rosalind Hemphill said, "I sleep outside. I can't afford anything. I've been here for 20 years." With Atlanta's current rent prices, it makes it difficult for hard working people to afford rent, especially if they are working for minimum wage.

Z. Bediako, a third generation Atlantan, spoke about her families experiences living in Atlanta, as well as her own. "We are here today to demand that housing is a human right. When you walk up and down downtown and you see people on the side of the road, thats not a representation of bad luck, thats not a representation of misfortune, that is a representation of oppression, systematic oppression."  

David Waid, a Marta worker,  who can no longer afford to live in the city he works in said "What our reality is, we can work here, but we can't live here".

The last speaker was Vera Web. Web lives in a senior facility and  spends 60% of her income on her rent because her rent has continued to increase each year. "My rent increased by $85 a month this year, not because the place got fixed up, simply because they felt they could charge more despite the fact that we are seniors who are mostly on a fixed income."

After the Rally finished, members of the Housing Justice League went into City Hall to deliver the report to the Community Development and Human Resources Committee. Sherise Brown and Alison Johnson gave public commentary about the reports findings and delivered the report to City Council members. 

On July 19th, at 6:30pm in the City Council Chambers at City Hall (55 Trinity Ave SW) there will be a public hearingwhere people struggling to afford Atlanta can testify and share their housing story with local and state lawmakers. This hearing is the opportunity for law makers to hear stories of those experiencing an affordable housing crisis. The hearing will be presided by Councilman Dickens, Councilwoman Moore, Rep Park Cannon, Senator Fort, and others. 

City View @ Rosa Burney Tenant Association Anniversary

ity View @ Rosa Burney's Tenant Association celebrated it's one year anniversary with a 2 day event celebration. In one year, the City View at Rosa Burney Tenant Association has brought together tenants, allies, and the Mechanicsville Community. The tenant association organized to keep City Views at Rosa Burney affordable by getting a HUD contract for 7 years. A very eventful and successful year!

The celebration kicked off last Wednesday at 4pm with Bingo with Councilman Andre Dickens. Tenants gathered for numerous rounds of competitive Bingo with Andre Dickens calling out the lucky numbers. A great time was had by all!

The anniversary celebration continued into Thursday. Tenants and allies gathered at the Dunbar Center for the Anniversary Party. The agenda was facilitated by the Tenant Association President, Deborah Arnold. There was space for tenants to discuss housing and community issues, followed by guest speakers. Becky Rafter, from Georgia WAND, spoke about Voter Registration. Maggie Kinnear, from Atlanta Legal Aid, spoke about what tenant's legal rights and what to do if they are being violated. After speakers we all had the opportunity to get to know each other and enjoy some anniversary cake. 

Congratulations to City View @ Rosa Burney's Tenant Association for building community power for over a year! We can't wait to see what the upcoming years hold for City View @ Rosa Burney's Tenant Association!

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Meet Atlanta's Housing Justice League

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It's been almost 5 years since Occupy Our Homes Atlanta (OOHA) was launched in the wake of the worst financial crisis in modern history. Since then, OOHA has worked with homeowners, tenants, small business owners, and everyone in between to fight back against unjust foreclosures and evictions, and built an organization that is truly led by those most directly impacted.

Fast forward to today and the housing crisis in our city has taken a whole new shape. Atlanta is rapidly becoming unaffordable for regular everyday people: Rents are on the rise, affordable housing is disappearing, and people are being displaced from the communities they helped build. Our local governments more often prioritize big developers over community members, and developers are almost always out to make a quick buck without considering the needs of the people, communities, and cultures they displace.

As the fight for housing justice has evolved, so has OOHA. Over the last couple of years, OOHA has honed in on neighborhoods in South Atlanta that are facing rapid gentrification and displacement. They've worked to build tenant associations, push for more affordable housing in the city, and played a leading role in shaping the future of the communities surrounding Turner Field. As they move forward towards a new chapter, it's only fitting that they expand the work and rebrand so members can continue to take ownership of this work.

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That's what prompted the launching of the Housing Justice League.

The Housing Justice League aims to help folks who are struggling with displacement, foreclosure, and eviction by organizing to win. We believe everyone should have a place to call home, and want to see an Atlanta where everyone has access to safe, adequate, and affordable housing. Now they are ready to take the movement for housing justice in Atlanta to the next level and want YOU to be a part of it.

The work has always relied on small donations from people just like you to sustain this important work. A contribution in any amount-- no matter how large or small-- helps ensure that we can continue to build a housing justice movement that fights for an Atlanta that works for everyone. We are already providing leadership development for tenant organizers, free legal clinics, and organizing infrastructure for communities and tenant associations. We have big plans in store for the future, but we need resources to make it happen.

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Bus Tour & Peoplestown Rally Against Displacement

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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 andPeoplestown 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 (pictured to the left) discussed his work in Peoplestown with the Peoplestown Revitalization Corporation throughout the years. There were discussions around previous development deals in the neighborhoods and how that has affected the neighborhoods today. The presentations gave insight into what people would be seeing on the tour. After presentations, we embarked on the Bus Tour.

 The first stop was Stanton Oaks, which was formerly Boynton Village, in Peoplestown. Sherise Brown (pictured to the right) spoke about her experience with Stanton Oaks/ Boynton Village. Mrs. Brown spoke about how tenants organized to make sure that Boynton Village remained affordable even after being bought by a different company. She discussed her experiences with renovations of the complex, ensuring that Stanton Oaks got a new 20 year HUD contract, and the tenant association at Stanton Oaks. Folks had the opportunity to ask questions about her experience and what it is like at Stanton Oaks. 

The next stop on the Tour was City Views at Rosa Burney in Mechanicsville. Deborah Arnold shared her experience organizing tenants to ensure that City Views remained and remains affordable and that everyone living at City Views has a good, quality standard of living. 


The Peace by Piece House in Pittsburgh was the third stop on the Bus Tour. Peace by Piece is an AFSC program thats 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 with renovating a house and community garden in Pittsburgh. The house and the garden are going to act as Peace by Piece Atlanta's hub. Farajii Muhammad spoke about the Peace by Piece and his experience organizing in Baltimore, Maryland. Khadijah gave a tour of the house and showed recent renovations. Joel gave a tour of the garden next door. By the end of the day 17 people signed up to help volunteer with renovations at the house.

The final stop on the Bus Tour was Tanya Washington's House 148 Atlanta Ave SE in Peoplestown. Once everyone got off the bus we joined Tanya Washington, Mr. and Mrs. Darden, and Miss Mattie Jackson on Tanya's yard. We stood in Tanya's yard and listened to spoken word and resident's stories. Mr. Darden Mrs. Mattie Jackson, Senator Fort, and Tanya Washington spoke about Peoplestown, gentrification, and this block fight. After Tanya spoke, we started the March around the block. 

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 House and the Darden's house have been bulldozed. Throughout the march we chanted and sang to let our voices be know to the neighborhood that "we shall not be moved."

The Rally left Miss Jackson, Tanya Washington, 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

Turner Field Neighborhoods Agree on Redevelopment Priorities

Turner Field Community Benefits Coalition, which represents the neighborhoods of Summerhill, Mechanicsville, Peoplestown, Pittsburgh and others nearby Turner Field, has approved a historic Community Benefits Platform.  

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Today the coalition, which American Firends Service Committe is proud to be a part of, held a press conference to release their platform at the very site of past and future development, Turner Field. Over 50 residents from the neighborhoods surrounding the baseball staduim showed up along with allie organizations and elected officials. The mood was celebratory yet was not without a very serious sense of urgency. the urgencey surround the pending sales contract for the land that Turner Field sits on today, which could happen any day now. 

The Atlanta Fulton County Recreation Authority(AFCRA) has the power to include a binding agreement that would require the developer to negotiate with the community on a community benefits agreement. AFCRA has a unique and historic opportunity to ensure that the development of the area benefits everyone. 

The Platform was guided by months of work and results from a survey which thousands from the community participated in.  “We are excited that we have been able to unite the neighborhoods surrounding Turner Field and the institutions, Churches, and organizations with one voice.”Said Coalition member and longtime Peoplestown resident Alison Johnson. Alison added, “My family has lived in Peoplestown for eighty years, and we don't want to be driven out by developmentAfter decades of development projects that have hurt our communities we are excited about the opportunity to finally get it right”

As the sale contract is set to be signed between the Atlanta Fulton County Recreational Authority(AFCRA) and the developer, we’re hopeful that AFCRA will include a binding requirement that the developer must negotiate a Community Benefits Agreement with the coalition” said Mechanicsville resident Jason Dozier adding, “They have the power to set us off on the path to building a community that works for all of us”.

The coalition plans to have three or four dozen residents out for the press conference. They will be joined by ally groups including several GSU student groups. The press conference will be short, spirited, visually striking, and press packets will be available.

Summerhill resident John Colabelli had this to say about the Community Benefits Platform, "The many voices are coming together as one.The Community Benefits Platform is the embodiment of those voices.It is the Bill of Rights through which we proclaim our wants, our needs, and our desires for what the future of the area will be.It is our Statement of Inclusion that we the people have a stake in this project. Just look around at the legacy of non-inclusive decisions where the few dictate what happens. Empty lots, empty buildings and empty promises.This however is a new day where we put that reality behind us."