The Winners and Losers of Atlanta’s Transformation

The city has reinvented itself in many ways, but its residents are not reaping those benefits equally.

1 minute read

February 9, 2020, 7:00 AM PST

By Camille Fink


Sean Pavone / Shutterstock

Atlanta has changed over recent decades and gone mainstream, with its thriving film industry, hip hop scene, upscale developments, and amenities like the BeltLine, writes Marsha Shalhoup. "However, in this majority-black city—one that has earned its prominence thanks in large part to the contributions of black Atlantans—it is still white Atlantans who are benefiting most."

She says that two factors contributed greatly to Atlanta’s transformation starting in the 1990s: the state’s HOPE scholarship program and the HOPE VI federal grant that replaced public housing with mixed-income developments. Ultimately, these programs did not help the Atlanta residents who needed it the most as income and college attendance gaps between blacks and whites widened.

Shalhoup returned to Atlanta in 2018 and says that she did not recognize parts of the city she knew well, previously rundown areas that gentrification wiped clean. "If this influx of wealth were benefiting people equally, or even sort of equally, these changes would be easier to accept. And they would be easier to accept if more had been done to preserve the affordability of these intown communities as they were transforming," she adds.

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