My Community- Atlanta District 4

I’ll call this….maybe a journal? I am not sure. Also, before I continue, I am a huge advocate of using plain language. English was my second language (I am a proud first generation American) and my grammar is awful. That’s a little information before I move on.

Throughout these past several months I have canvassed the 4th district for countless reasons. I have delivered food for many people in this district that need fresh food that live in food deserts via Food 4 Life Atlanta - for which I was a manager for several months. I have recently wrapped up a 2 week mutual aid drive for the homeless I initiated with Metro Atlanta DSA in which I donated large quantities of winter clothing to the Atlanta Mission and Gateway Center. During that drive, I have made up nearly 150 “PPE packs” that contain hygiene products, blankets, wool socks, gloves, and anything else I could fit in small draw string bag (I hand them out during this brutal winter). I have 75 left and $$$ left over from fundraising set aside…for the upcoming evictions in 2021 (2.5M-5M Georgians are expected to be evicted). Fact: we are the highest rented district in Atlanta as of winter of 2017. We are also the second to lowest median household income, right in front of Joyce Shepard’s district 12. What else are we in front of district 12 for? Poverty. (I write this on 12/22/2020, 4 years later and I don't think those numbers have changed considering what I have personally seen and heard).

Now, what I mentioned above was not to brag about anything, it was to point something out, a trend if you will, or maybe a theme? And it’s simple: The people that made up my district are being ignored and nothing has fundamentally changed to better their lives. The infrastructure is crippling. Every time it rains my family has our power banks charged up ready for the lights to go out. Internet? Most of the time goes out. I am fortunate enough to have any of that. But what about others in my community that don’t? I walk down on Westmont, you might as well call that a mini-285, why? People drive highway speed while people, like myself, walk our pets risking getting hit by a car. No sidewalks. No stop signs. No speed bumps. Don’t believe me? Park on the street for 10 minutes, and count how many cars you think are going over 50 mph. This is just 1 road in a district of nearly 40,000 people.

The West End Beltline is ramping up. Where is this “affordable housing” on the beltline? As my neighbor put it, “Ain’t no damn affordable housing about to happen on the beltline”. That same neighbor grew up in Oakland City, right around the corner from me. His family had to sell their house because property taxes and the ever growing gentrification problem pushed him out. I know I am all over the place with this “journal entry”, but these problems come to mind as I type and I cannot ignore and not write about them.

Speaking of gentrification happening in the Fourth District, a house by the John A. White golf course just sold for over $470k, meanwhile every issue I mentioned earlier is happening.

We are in a once-in-a-lifetime pandemic. I gave a mask to a homeless person during my mutual aid drive and you know what they told me? “This is the first time I have worn a mask since I heard of this pandemic”. That right there hit me so hard. I did not know what to say. During this pandemic I always asked myself, “This city talks about COVID safety guidelines, but why isn’t PPE free and accessible to all?”. I’ve gone into the Kroger on Cascade during the pandemic to only see cops harass an older man about not having a mask. He didn’t own one (this was at the peak before people got creative and made masks during a massive masks shortage). I’m wondering to myself, “Why aren’t the police handing out masks to ensure public safety instead of berating and denying entry to an older man for trying to buy food to feed his family?” I quickly turned around as this was happening and tried to grab a disposable mask to hand to him, but by the time I made it close to him, he had taken off.

I know I touched up on a few issues, but you will continue to hear more about what is going on in the Fourth District of Atlanta as I continue to write and go into specifics on each issue going forward. And for the people that have been here the longest-those that made this community- continue to be ignored. Our city council will sometimes touch up on these issues, but my question to them is: Where are the solutions? As I like to say, a lot of these issues this country has politicized: to me they are human rights issues.

I am a runner, reader, activist, community organizer, and fighter for human rights. Lucho por la gente.