AJC’s ‘Dangerous’ Dwellings’ series receives national journalism award

Credit: Curtis Compton / Curtis.Compton@

Credit: Curtis Compton / Curtis.Compton@

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution has won a national journalism award for its reporting on hundreds of unsafe and unsanitary apartment complexes across metro Atlanta.

The AJC series “Dangerous Dwellings,” published in several installments in 2022, was among the 22 winners of the Investigative Reporters & Editors’ annual awards, announced Monday. The organization chose the winners from more than 400 entries in 19 categories across media platforms.

“This searing expose gave voice to thousands of residents — mostly people of color — stuck living in horrific conditions at persistently dangerous apartment complexes in Atlanta,” the judges wrote. “The scale and scope of this investigation was truly impressive, revealing how state law makes it almost impossible to hold predatory owners to account while they rake in massive federal subsidies. Reporters showed how private equity and other investors are drawn to a business model that has painfully real impacts on how people live.”

Other winning entries documented Russian war crimes in Ukraine, investigated deadly smuggling of migrants through the Arizona desert and exposed police officers abusing disability benefits during a time of record gun violence. A special citation was awarded to the Las Vegas Review-Journal for taking legal action to protect the identities of sources of a reporter who was shot to death last year.

The city of Atlanta and other local governments promised crackdowns on substandard housing as a result of the AJC series, and state lawmakers took up a measure that would, for the first time, require Georgia landlords to provide rental units that are “fit for human habitation.” The state House approved by bill by a unanimous vote, but the measure did not come up in the Senate before the General Assembly adjourned last week. The bill will be considered again next year.

AJC staff members honored for their work on the project were investigative reporters Alan Judd, Willoughby Mariano and Johnny Edwards, data analysts Jennifer Peebles and Eric Fan and investigative editor Lois Norder. The project previously was honored in the Bartlett & Steele Awards by The Reynolds Center for Business Journalism at Arizona State University.

IRE, founded in 1975, is a nonprofit organization that trains and supports journalists who pursue investigative stories. The organization is based at the University of Missouri.