The Atlanta Housing Authority (AHA) was an NHC 2009 “Pioneering Housing Strategies” Award finalist for its outstanding work in public housing in Atlanta, which has undergone a remarkable transformation over the past fourteen years. And, along with it, so have many once-broken urban neighborhoods and the often marginalized families living in them. Changes of such significance were possible only through a radical rethinking of how to improve housing and housing options for families living below the poverty line—a rethinking enabled in great part by HOPE VI. Specifically, AHA was determined to use HOPE VI to reverse the cycle of low expectations and poor outcomes.
Today, AHA is assisting 19,500 households (approximately 6,000 more than in 1994) in a much broader array of healthier, safer, and opportunity-enhancing housing, from private apartments rented with Section 8 vouchers to nine new mixed-use, mixed-income communities; five mixed-income communities; and more than thirty-five project-based rental assistance mixed-income arrangements with private owners. AHA is also implementing plans under its Moving to Work agreement to relocate affected households by using Section 8 vouchers and to close and demolish by the end of 2010 its remaining distressed and obsolete family public housing projects and two projects for senior citizens and disabled individuals.
As a result, tens of thousands of Atlantans are living in now-thriving neighborhoods that were once urban “war zones” with crumbling infrastructure, high crime rates, failing schools, and declining property values. As those housing projects have been razed and redeveloped as market-quality, mixed-use, mixed-income communities, Atlanta has flourished. Affluent and middle-class residents are moving in, and the city’s population recently topped 500,000. Crime decreased by at least 44 percent over the last decade, and billions of private dollars have been invested in the city.