Public Housing

Urban Health and Well-being Research Initiative for Neighborhoods in Transition

The Urban Health and Well-being Research Initiative was formed in early 2008 by faculty across several academic disciplines including sociology, public health, criminal justice, nutrition, communications, and history with the support of the Partnership for Urban Health Research at Georgia State University. Our purpose is to examine the health and quality of life implications for low income residents in urban neighborhoods undergoing revitalization from a multidisciplinary perspective. Our approach is to start from the ground up by talking to the residents’ about their perspectives on how neighborhood transformation is affecting their everyday lives. The initiative also provides many opportunities for graduates students to get experience in the field.

Our first project focuses public housing transformation in Atlanta. The Atlanta Housing Authority (AHA) announced plans in early 2007 to demolish the remaining 10 family public housing communities as well as two senior high rises in the next several years. Almost 10,000 residents will be relocated to private-market housing with the help of Housing Choice Voucher subsidies (formerly Section 8). This is affecting some of the poorest families in the city and therefore has important social and health ramifications for public housing residents. The overall goal of this project is to document residents’ experiences before and after the relocation process, as well as assess residential, socioeconomic and health outcomes.

Our initial report presents some preliminary findings from our pre-relocation survey of 387 public housing residents. We focus on residents’ reasons for entering public housing and what implications this has for relocation; tenure, health conditions, level of financial security, building and neighborhood conditions, accessibility of location, moving preferences and concerns about relocation, as well as differences between the family and senior housing.