Increasing Opportunities for Children and Families in Southwest Atlanta
We have a saying around the Annie E. Casey Foundation that kids do well when their families do well, and families do well when they live in supportive neighborhoods with strong community-based services, good jobs, affordable homes and high-quality schools. But for too many children in Atlanta, particularly children of color, our systems, institutions and infrastructure haven’t provided access to these critical resources.
In 2015, Casey published a report examining the city’s north-south divide and found that race and zip code create barriers that too often limit children and families from realizing their full potential. Among the findings:
- Eighty percent of Atlanta’s African-American children were living in communities with high concentrations of poverty, compared with 6 percent of their white peers, 29 percent of Asians and 43 percent of Latinos.
- The unemployment rate for African Americans in Atlanta (22 percent) was nearly twice the city’s overall 13 percent, more than three times higher than the rate for their white counterparts (6 percent) and more than twice the rate for Latinos (9 percent).
- Atlanta’s white households earned a median income of nearly $85,000, more than three times the median income for African Americans and almost twice that of Latinos. And while Asian and Pacific Islanders fared somewhat better, their median household income was almost $30,000 less than that of white households.
- Graduation rates for black and Latino students in Atlanta Public Schools were 57 percent and 53 percent, compared with 84 percent and 94 percent, respectively, for white and Asian students.
We want to change that picture.
The Casey Foundation is working with a diverse network of partners to increase opportunities for low-income families of color in the city’s Adair Park, Capitol Gateway, Mechanicsville, Peoplestown, Pittsburgh and Summerhill neighborhoods — a cluster often referred to as Neighborhood Planning Unit V (NPU-V). Together, we’re improving the quality and availability of housing, educational and job opportunities and bolstering residents’ ability to advocate for themselves and their communities.
- Last fall, the Casey Foundation began working with the Atlanta Neighborhood Development Partnership to renovate 11 homes on Welch and Beryl streets, three of which have already sold to new residents eager to plant their roots in Pittsburgh. These homes are among the 53 vacant houses Casey purchased throughout the neighborhood following the foreclosure crisis, which we have been redeveloping with the goal of increasing homeownership opportunities for low- to moderate-income residents.
- Casey finalized an agreement with Columbia Core Partners to begin the first phase of redevelopment at 352 University Avenue. Within the next decade, we hope to transform the 31-acre property, also located in the Pittsburgh neighborhood, into a vibrant space where residents can work, shop, create and play.
- With Casey Foundation funding, the Atlanta Volunteer Lawyers Foundation (AVLF) is expanding its Standing With Our Neighbors initiative to provide more NPU-V families with free legal counsel and other supports to help them navigate difficult landlord-tenant issues, including forced evictions, mold and utility shutoffs. AVLF hopes these efforts will help mitigate the negative impact that unstable living situations can have on children’s school attendance and performance.
- Since its start in 2014, the Construction Ready program has placed over 400 people into full-time careers with more than 60 construction companies throughout metro Atlanta. The program is part of broader efforts by The Center for Working Families Inc., a long-time Casey grantee, and CEFGA to ensure residents on the south and west sides of the city have the skills and credentials necessary to secure good, family-sustaining jobs.
These are just a few examples of the ways we can work together to transform NPU-V into a place where families can thrive. The Casey Foundation is eager to build upon this momentum — and continue working with our partners to ensure a promising future for all children in Atlanta.