Residents Speak Out Against Gentrification In Historic Black Neighborhood

Photo: Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

Residents of the historically Black Pittsburgh neighborhood in Atlanta are speaking out after developers recently sold a home there for more than $700,000. Signs with the message “Stop Gentrification” are posted along the streets of the community, as residents push back on gentrification growing in Pittsburgh. 

“Neighborhoods are being taken apart and people are being pushed out,” Kamau Franklin of the Community Movement Builders Group told CBS 46. Franklin, who is a homeowner in Pittsburgh, helped organize the protest signs being posted around the community. He told the outlet he’s been monitoring the housing market in the area since 2015. 

“We purchased a house six years ago for $50,000 and now it’s valued at well over $200,000, so we knew even then that this community has been targeted for gentrification,” Franklin said. 

Residents have expressed their fear that development in the area will increase property taxes and push them out of their homes. 

“It’s been impacting everyone here,” Hope Street resident Justin Posey told the outlet. “My main concern is my rent will go up. My rent is locked in now but there’s nothing that will stop my property owner from going under water on her mortgage because the property tax will go up,” Posey said.

Located southwest of downtown Atlanta, Pittsburgh was founded in 1883 as a Black working class community which neighbors the Pegram rail shops. The community got its name because of its industrial look which is similar to the Pennsylvania city. 

To preserve the community’s history and keep residents in their homes, Atlanta City Councilman Antonio Brown said the city should auction off properties to legacy residents in low income neighborhoods. 

“I don’t think gentrification is necessarily a negative thing, I think it becomes negative when you leave residents behind,” Brown told the outlet, adding that the city should provide resources to become homeowners to avoid residents, like those in Pittsburgh, won’t be left with a major property tax increase. 

“It’s historically Black you know a lot of people have struggles here and they’re still good people and they’re being kicked out of the neighborhood, because of developmental changes that are going on,” resident Shardayla Lencrerot told the outlet.

“There’s going to be some major changes and it’s going to impact not only the homeowners but the tenants who live here too,” Lencrerot added.

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