Widening Disparities and Concentration of Poverty
The 1990 poverty rate for the Atlanta region was 7.7% vs. 24.6% for the city of Atlanta. The city of Atlanta contains only 12% of the region's population and 65% of the area's public housing. Over 88% of the Atlanta region's poor blacks live in Fulton and DeKalb Counties, 62% in the city of Atlanta, and 6% in Cobb and Gwinnett Counties.
Urban Flight and Racial Polarization
Federal mortgage subsidies facilitate middle-income home owners flight out of the central city into outlying suburbs and
rural areas at the same time many Atlanta central city neighborhoods are starving for investment capital. Sprawl development in the suburbs creates disinvestment incentives, depresses property values, and stagnates business opportunities in older inner city areas where African Americans and other people of color are concentrated. Flight of whites and middle-income families to the suburbs contributes to and exacerbates both economic and racial polarization in the region. Racial barriers also deprive a large segment of the central city population major investments through home ownership and business development. Racially segregated housing patterns have extended into Atlanta suburbs.
Clear racial patterns emerge in both Fulton and DeKalb County Schools with African Americans concentrated in the southern portion of the two counties with whites concentrated in the north.
Barriers to Fair Housing
Results from fair housing "testers" reveal that African Americans are treated less favorably than whites 30% of
the time in Atlanta and 67% of the time in Atlanta's suburbs.
Atlanta's combined sewer overflows or CSOs pose health risks since many contain heavy metals, organic compounds and petroleum products as well as viruses and fecal coliform bacteria from humans and animals; 77.7% of CSOs in Atlanta are located in mostly African American neighborhoods where home values fall well below the median. While people of color comprise 29.8% of the population in the five largest counties contiguous to Atlanta (Fulton, DeKalb, Cobb, Gwinnett, and Clayton), they represent the majority of residents in five of the ten "dirtiest" zip codes in these large counties.
On average, people in the region drive 34 miles per day--more than anyone else on the face of the planet; Atlantans lead the nation in miles driven per day (over 100 million miles per day) Georgia's motor fuel tax is the lowest in the nation (7.5 cents per gallon) and currently can only be used for roads and bridges. The Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority or MARTA serves just two counties, Fulton and DeKalb. Only 4.7% of the region's workers commute by public transit. Over 34.9% of Atlanta's black females and 24.3% of black males use public transit to get to work; for whites, 5.2% females and 4.2% males use public transit to get to work.
Air Quality and Public Health
Generally, major transportation investments in highways support low-density sprawl that generates increased vehicle emission and air pollution. Ground-level ozone may exacerbate health problems such as asthma, nasal congestions, throat irritation, respiratory tract inflamation, reduced resistance to infection, changes in cell function, loss of lung elasticity, chest pains, lung scarring, formation of lesions within the lungs, and premature aging of lung tissues. Asthma is the number one reason for childhood hospitalization in Atlanta. The most vulnerable population is low-income children; asthma is 26 percent higher among African American children than among white children. Pediatric emergency clinic visits in Atlanta increased by one-third during peak ozone level. Four counties in the Atlanta metropolitan region (DeKalb, Douglas, Fulton, and Rockdale Counties) exceed national ozone standards. A disproportionately large share of the childhood asthma cases (90.1 percent) in the Atlanta nonattainment area occur in Fulton and DeKalb counties two counties with the largest share of people of color.
Zoning and Land Use
Implementation of zoning ordinances and land-use plans have a political, economic, and racial dimension. Generally, government officials have done a miserable job protecting low-income, working- class, and people of color communities from pollution assaults, industrial encroachment, and environmental degradation. Race underlies and interpenetrates with the other factors in explaining the socio-spatial layout of the Atlanta metropolitan area, including housing patterns, street and highway configuration, commercial development, and industrial facility siting. Poor whites and poor blacks do not have the same opportunities to "vote with their feet" and escape undesirable physical environments.
Social and Economic Equity
Broad Coalitions and Alliances across Political Jurisdictions
Proactive Race Relations Strategy
Plans to Narrow Public Education Gap between City and Suburbs
Outreach to Atlanta's Urban Core Stakeholders
Housing and Community Development
Regional Fair Housing Initiatives
Energy Efficient Housing
Rigorous Enforcement of Existing Laws
Investment in Low-Income Communities and Communities of Color
Environmental Risk Reduction and Pollution Prevention Plan
Vegetation and Green Space
Land Use Reform and Brownfields Redevelopment
Title VI and Environmental Justice Enforcement
Transportation and Land Use
Gas Tax Reform
Regional Transportation Authority
Streets for Walking, Bicycles, and Transit
Improve Access to Jobs
Uniform Local Public Involvement Process
Equity Analysis and Transportation Planning
Air Quality Standards Enforcement
Performance Measures and Public Information