Skip to content
CityLab
Housing

By 2011, Atlanta Had Demolished All of Its Public Housing Projects. Where Did All Those People Go?

A new documentary looks at what happened after the city tore down 14,000 units of public housing.
relates to By 2011, Atlanta Had Demolished All of Its Public Housing Projects. Where Did All Those People Go?
AP

For most of the 20th century, Atlanta was known for its public housing. The city had pioneered the concept in the 1930s, opening Techwood Homes as the nation’s first government-owned housing project in 1936. By the early 1990s, the Atlanta Housing Authority owned roughly 14,000 individual units across 43 properties, though more than 5,000 of these dilapidated apartments had been deemed uninhabitable by then. At the time, the city held the dubious title of having the highest proportion of its residents in public housing in the nation.

Two decades later, that proportion has fallen all the way to zero. Far sooner and far faster than other cities, Atlanta has systematically torn down its traditional brick and cinder block public housing projects, beginning in the lead-up to the 1996 Summer Olympics. Former residents received vouchers to help pay for privately managed apartments and houses, and the city made plans to replace its public housing stock with mixed-income developments, much of it through federal Hope VI grants or private investment. The last residents moved out in 2009, and the final property — the Palmer House high rise — came down in 2011.