This looks like something I’ve seen in Haiti…
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Some 30,000 people lined up outside a local shopping centre in Atlanta, Georgia, on Wednesday in the hope of receiving public housing assistance. The authorities were unprepared for the throng, which was unruly at times. Amid sweltering conditions, 62 people were hurt and 20 needed hospital care. Only 455 rent assistance vouchers and 200 public housing spaces were on offer – while 13,000 applications were taken.
Some had lined up since Sunday for the possibility of discounted rent.
It was the first time in eight years that the housing authority in East Point, a municipality in south-west Atlanta, had accepted applications for public housing and rent subsidies, known as Section 8 vouchers. Authorities estimate it will be six months before any vacancies become available for the small number of successful applicants. Most of the 16 other local housing authorities in Atlanta have closed their waiting lists. But Section 8 vouchers are portable, so people flocked from across the city for a chance to receive housing aid.
Atlanta is an economically polarized city: it has the fastest growing number of millionaires in the US but also has the third-highest proportion of people living below 50% of the poverty line.
“People are desperate. They are really willing to do whatever it takes to get into housing,” James Fraser, a public housing expert at Vanderbilt University, told the BBC.
Welcome to America after 30 years of conservatism. One of the favorite stitch’s of a black conservative buckdancer from Atlanta is to berate the City of Detroit. The line goes that Liberalism and Unions killed manufacturing in the North, as companies sought lower wage costs in the South. What is missing in that spew is the fact that most of the Sunbelt cities have the same structural inequities they had before BMW, Mercedes, or Toyota located a manufacturing plant there. In other words, that egg looks great and shiny from the outside…
But it’s rotten inside. Conservative leadership in these states has in some cases exacerbated existing inequities.
Atlanta is a city of paradoxes. It is home to the fastest growing millionaire population in the United States. The city has the largest concentration of black millionaires. Yet, Atlanta is number three on the list of “Top 101 cities with the most people below 50% of the poverty level, excluding cities with 15% or more of residents in college and with the median age below 28 (population 50,000+).” Atlanta also has an extremely high child poverty rate at 48.1 percent in 2004, higher than Detroit (47.8 percent), Long Beach (45.8 percent), Miami (41.3 percent), and Milwaukee (41.3 percent). Black Atlanta families are nearly three times more likely than white Atlanta families to be poor. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 20.8 percent of Atlanta’s black families and 7.4 percent of white families fell below the poverty line in 2008.
A wide gap also exists in black-white earnings. In 2008, the median income for white Atlanta households was $86,156 compared with only $29,033 for the city’s black households. In reality, black Atlantans earn only about a third of the income earned by their white counterparts. A staggering black-white wealth gap also persists. Melvin Oliver and Thomas Shapiro, in their book Black Wealth/White Wealth, show that the average black family held only 10 cents of wealth for every dollar that whites possess. The typical white family is worth $81,000 compared to only $8,000 for a typical black family. In his book, The Hidden Cost of Being African American, Thomas Shapiro says the penalty in net worth for being black amounts to $136,173, and the net financial asset penalty is $94,426. The black-white wealth gap widened while the income gap narrowed. For millions of middle-class blacks, hard work, college education, good paying job, and owning homes have done little to narrow the wealth gap.
Less than half (49.0 percent) of Atlanta’s black families own their homes compared to more than three fourths (76.7) of the white families in the city.
At 10.1 percent, Metro Atlanta’s unemployment rate mirrors the10.0 percent national rate. In January 2010, the national jobless rate stood at 8.7 percent for whites, 12.6 percent for Hispanics, and 16.5 percent for blacks. The national teenage unemployment has hit all-time highs with a 25.5 percent white teen jobless rate compared to a staggering 41.3 percent black teen jobless rate. Most academics believe the true unemployment rate, including discouraged workers, is more than 50 percent for young black males age 16 to 19. Some experts even report that fewer than 14 in 100 young black men actually have jobs.
Until they are ready to stop playing bullshit games in Washington and focus on what it is going to take to recover…
It is going to get worse. And one day soon, we could well learn all about what our grandparents went through in the 30’s.