Introduction: Howard Husock, Vice President, Public Policy Research
In 1994, the Atlanta Housing Authority owned and operated more than 43 housing projects—notorious for extremely high crime (35 times the city average in some places) and low rates of employment (as few as 13 percent of households had wage-earners). The system could not look more different today. Virtually all the projects have been demolished. Some 50,000 assisted tenants are now housed in privately-owned buildings, either apartments paid for by housing vouchers or units in new, mixed-income communities on the sites of what had been what the AHA calls “toxic environments” where the projects once stood. Surrounding neighborhoods have been revived. Spurred by a work or training requirement, more than 60 percent of tenants are employed. A potential model for the more than 3,300 public housing authorities managing 1.2 million apartments nationwide, Atlanta’s public housing transformation has been led by Atlanta Housing Authority chief executive Renee Glover, winner of the Center for Civic Innovation's 2009 Urban Innovator Award.