Questions about affordable housing and crime in the Southwest Atlanta community dominated much of the city’s third town hall meeting this year. It struck a different chord than the previous town hall gatherings, which largely focused on an influx of crime and policing concerns.
Atlanta police Chief Erika Shields acknowledged that many of the technological resources the police department uses, such as cameras and license plate readers, don’t make it to the south side of the city.
“We haven’t invested in technology that we have in the downtown or Buckhead area and that has to change,” Shields said.
Atlanta police typically use security cameras installed by local businesses to monitor crime in the area, but Shields said parts of southwest Atlanta don’t have that advantage.
“The problem is that we don’t have that economic development in some parts of the community that need that technology the most,” Shields said.
Another problem the area faced was the lack of an Atlanta police precinct building in their zone. Shields said the city broke ground on the precinct in 2017, but it has yet to be built. She expects it will be built in a year.
The current building is located in Zone 6, which includes the Grant Park area.
While there hasn’t been a precinct in the neighborhood for some time, residents such as Tarin Love have noticed increased patrols by police.
“I think they’re doing better,” Love said, adding officers have been coming to community forums. “They’ve stepped it up.”
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Other residents were concerned affordable housing efforts would relocate those who already struggle to stay in their homes.
“It seems from an outsider perspective, (efforts) are catering to affluent people and not I’m not seeing homes for people who could be displaced,” Edgewood resident Lindsay Henningfield said.
A 15-year resident of Atlanta, Ion Snipes, 54, has seen the city undergo many changes including the closing of the longtime Peachtree-Pine homeless shelter, which she says resulted in displacing homeless residents.
“What is being done? Because it doesn’t seem to be getting better,” Snipes said.
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