east lake meadows summary

In retirement, Aseelah Muhammad now lives in College Park. And yes, the enormous spread near Buckhead’s Chastain Park has its own gun range. What East Lake represented for families, certainly at the beginning, was a really important thing, and they were happy to be there. And then your rent started getting higher. Brief animated sequences from Molly Schwartz help alleviate some of the inherent dryness of East Lake Meadows: A Public Housing Story and the film's actual footage is a … We don’t have another place. The latter group included firebrand Eva Davis, the community's outspoken longtime tenant leader, whose apartment was firebombed by drug dealers in an (unsuccessful) attempt to keep her quiet. On the day Muhammad’s family moved in—not more than four hours after they’d unpacked—a man was murdered during a dice game just beneath the steps leading to her second-floor apartment. They had good relationships with other children in the community, and that made everything work. There’s a story in the film about, a couple of years after it opened, having these huge problems with the sewer lines. A production of Florentine Films and WETA Washington, D.C. A lot of landlords don’t accept those vouchers. East Lake Meadows, the public housing project opened by the Atlanta Housing Authority in 1970 and demolished a generation later, is the subject of a … Sarah Burns: We were initially drawn to East Lake after reading about the successes of the Villages and Drew [Charter School] and the new community there. Learn the history of East Lake Meadows, a former public housing community in Atlanta. Thursday, December 31, 2020 at Watch Now. Stories from residents reveal hardship and resilience, and raise critical questions about race, poverty, and who is deserving of public assistance. Stories from residents reveal hardship and resilience, and raise critical questions about race, poverty, and who is deserving of public assistance. Ultimately, the AHA partnered with the East Lake Community Foundation, which had been created by local real estate developer and philanthropist Tom Cousins, to design a new community — the Villages of East Lake — that would contain 542 units, with 50 percent set aside for low-income residents. There was no grocery store. Thousands of low-income Atlantans, mostly black, moved in. Initially praised for the spacious units and new construction, East Lake Meadows quickly became known as “little Vietnam,” a moniker that was intended to capture the rampant crime and violence that overwhelmed the community. The film documents the tremendous hardships faced by East Lake families; the lack of access to grocery stores and fresh produce; the impact of devastating unemployment and poverty; conditions that included mold, leaky pipes, and collapsing walls and ceilings; and the seemingly ubiquitous presence of crime, drugs and guns. There were problems with East Lake Meadows essentially from the beginning. One interview subject vividly recalls watching, as a boy, a gunshot victim’s last long breaths. I actually used it to get a three-bedroom house [in Gwinnett County’s Grayson]. San Diego news; when you want it, where you want it. And we didn’t have any problems. It was a sad moment, but it was a good feeling, because you knew something good was going to come out of it. But as public housing in America was abandoned and stigmatized, and a crack wave swept through the neighborhood, East Lake Meadows became nearly uninhabitable. "In 1995, the East Lake Meadows housing project was among the worst places in the United States to live. Download it for free on your favorite device. The story of East Lake is really the story of their lives.”, “East Lake Meadows, like many public housing projects across the country, was designed to house those with the greatest needs,” said producer and director David McMahon. The PBS documentary “East Lake Meadows,” from the executive producer Ken Burns, tells a complicated and melancholy story of race and public policy. They knew how to get together and still have a good time and enjoy life.”, Beverly Parks, another resident, explained, “Even in poverty, there’s always light. Viewers are encouraged to join the conversation: #EastLakePBS. And I think that’s most of our history as black folks. With the PBS Video App, you can stream your favorite and local station shows. They welcomed us in, told us about the block parties. “Until it became a nightmare.”, The apartments’ shoddy, cheap construction, lack of government funding and maintenance, and especially the crack epidemic of the 1980s took an ugly toll. We searched the city to find the 25 best family friendly activities in Atlanta, from a puppet theater to one of the largest aquariums in the world. In the early 1990s East Lake, which is located five miles east of downtown Atlanta, was one of the poorest and most violent communities in the city, the anchor of which was the East Lake Meadows … Through the stories of the former residents, East Lake Meadows: A Public Housing Story gives voice to some of the most marginalized people in our society and raises critical questions about how we have created concentrated poverty and limited housing opportunity for African Americans, and what responsibility we have as a people to ensure decent housing for our most vulnerable citizens. Muhammad knew the latter’s reputation, but she often attended a prayer service across the street, so choosing East Lake made her feel safer. For one month, it will also be available to watch for free via the PBS website. Apartment residents who live in this neighborhood are from many parts of Georgia. In 1970, the Atlanta Public Housing Authority opened East Lake Meadows—a sprawling, spartan complex of 650 units set among eastside hills, … East Lake Meadows A Public Housing Story (DVD) : Ken Burns presents and follows the transformation of a single struggling, impoverished Atlanta neighborhood over several years as community members apply a radical holistic revitalization program to improve the lives of every resident. Please also read our Privacy Notice and Terms of Use, which became effective December 20, 2019. East Lake Meadows, outside the heart of downtown Atlanta, was one of the final public housing projects developed in Atlanta, and it was shoddily built. What do you hope people across the country can take from this? There’s always that beacon of light through there. The history of the East Lake Meadows public housing project in Atlanta and the people who lived there from 1970 to its demolition in 2000, with special emphasis on the activism of Eva Davis asserting the rights of the tenants. Every weekday afternoon, we’ll send you our top TV picks so you can hear about upcoming programs and never miss your favorite shows. Stories from residents reveal hardship and resilience, and raise critical questions about race, poverty and who is deserving of public assistance. In 1956, the government further enabled the middle-class movement to the suburbs through the rise of new infrastructure – the interstate highway system. Learn the history of East Lake Meadows, a former public housing community in Atlanta. Residents shared with us their stories of resilience, trauma, hard work and finding joy despite the challenging conditions.”, Lawrence and Elgin Lightfoot describe how their family ended up with a piano while living in East Lake Meadows. In October of 1970, the Atlanta Housing Authority opened a public housing community on the edge of Atlanta called East Lake Meadows. In the 1990s, the Atlanta Housing Authority (AHA) developed a plan to demolish the existing complex and to replace it with a new, mixed-income community. The name conjured up images of the danger and violence associated with a war-torn country. I mean, it’s an amazing outcome, a blessing that happened in that community. Did you have a lot of friends who managed to return? “East Lake Meadows” tells the stories of more than a dozen families who lived in the community between the 1970s and its demolition in the mid-1990s, including the Lightfoot family and four generations of the family of Eva Davis, the long-time tenant leader at East Lake Meadows. In reality, we could have told the story anywhere and found something that would relate to people’s experiences in public housing and the failures in terms of federal and local governments. The current school system that’s over there, the YMCA is over there now. Directed by Sarah Burns, David McMahon. Funding for EAST LAKE MEADOWS: A PUBLIC HOUSING STORY was provided by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, PBS and public television viewers. We were the first black family. “East Lake Meadows: A Public Housing Story” is a new documentary by Sarah Burns and David McMahon, airing on Tuesday, Mar. 24 at 7 p.m. “East Lake Meadows” tells the stories of more than a dozen families who lived in the community between the … The Ken Burns-produced PBS documentary “East Lake Meadows: A Public Housing Story” examines our public-housing nightmare through the lens of a storied Atlanta housing project. “My girls wanted to put the stuff back in the trunk and go find some other place to live,” Muhammad, 53, recalled in a recent interview with Curbed Atlanta. Pre-Olympics efforts in Atlanta to break up concentrations of poverty by creating mixed-income settings, often with lower-density townhomes, helped usher in the phased demolition of East Lake Meadows. While gentrification isn’t explicitly the topic of the film, it certainly is related. The history of the East Lake Meadows public housing project in Atlanta and the people who lived there from 1970 to its demolition in 2000, with special emphasis on the activism of Eva Davis asserting the rights of the tenants. Before revitalization efforts began in full force in 1996, just 13 percent of East Lake Meadows residents had steady jobs, and incomes averaged around $5,000 a year. By choosing I Accept, you consent to our use of cookies and other tracking technologies. There’s just not enough of the [former] residents there who could have come back. Extend your viewing window with KPBS Passport, video streaming for members supporting KPBS at $60 or more yearly, using your computer, smartphone, tablet, Roku, AppleTV, Amazon Fire or Chromecast. In the mid-1990s, Atlanta bulldozed the housing project to make way for new mixed-income housing, as government and philanthropic funds poured into the area in an effort to create a thriving community. East Lake Meadows: A Public Housing Story. With cinematography by Buddy Squires, original music by Doug Wamble, and illustrations and animation by Molly Schwartz. “We quickly realized, though, that while the film is very much about public housing, and its promises and shortcomings, it is really about the stories of the families who called East Lake Meadows home. East Lake Meadows, the public housing project opened by the Atlanta Housing Authority in 1970 and demolished a generation later, is the subject of a new documentary by Sarah Burns and David McMahon ("The Central Park Five," "Jackie Robinson") that tackles the impact of racism on housing while also exploring the daily lives of those who called East Lake Meadows home. “East Lake Meadows: A Public Housing Story” is a new documentary directed by Sarah Burns and David McMahon that tells the stories of former residents. The community’s 542 units—half reserved for lower-income residents—are served by a new Publix, bank, and one of Atlanta’s best performing school systems, Drew Charter, as filmmakers note. A Public Housing Story (2020) : The history of the East Lake Meadows public housing project in Atlanta and the people who lived there from 1970 to its demolition in 2000, with special emphasis on the activism of Eva Davis asserting the rights of the tenants. So, we used to joke, and we would look for happiness wherever we could find it.”. Even though the buildings are gone, the East Lake Meadows community still very much exists. It was very few and far between. Only about 15 percent of the former East Lake Meadows residents returned to the Villages of East Lake, while many others accepted vouchers to move into private housing elsewhere. Children were caught in drug-related gunfire as mother’s sheltered babies in their bathrooms to avoid bullets. This was 1970. I’d venture to say most Atlantans, at least today, aren’t aware there was ever a “heaven” phase at East Lake Meadows. East Lake Meadows, a new documentary that premieres on PBS on March 24, tells the story of one such development. About the Film. Freshly married at age 17 with two children, Atlanta native Aseelah Muhammad was struggling to find full-time work in the early 1990s when she and her husband qualified for public housing assistance. By the early 1970s, many viewed the war in Vietnam as unwinnable and associating it with East Lake Meadows imbued the public with the idea that perhaps … Learn the history of East Lake Meadows, a former public housing community in Atlanta. “The kids and everything, it’s just like a big party, and that’s the best thing I remember. WATCH: “East Lake Meadows” “East Lake Meadows” tells the stories of more than a dozen families who lived in the community between the 1970s and its demolition in the mid-1990s, including the Lightfoot family and four generations of the family of Eva Davis, the long-time tenant leader at East Lake Meadows. [Infobase,; Public Broadcasting Service (U.S.),;] -- In 1970, a public housing community was opened in Atlanta called East Lake Meadows. Further reading. With 601 neighborhoods in the local market, this residential submarket is one of the notable submarkets of Atlanta, GA. East Lake Meadows is a smaller section of town made up of several city blocks. And we all had a shovel in our hand, and we dug up the first dirt in the ground. East Lake is on part of a 19th-century plantation owned by Lt. Col. Robert Augustus Alston, whose home, known as Meadow Nook, still stands across from the East Lake Golf Course. East Lake Meadows: A Public Housing Story. Atlanta, Ga. Oct. 28, 1992. Stories from residents reveal hardship and resilience, and raise critical questions about race, poverty, and who is deserving of public assistance. The reality is that the new community served a different [higher-income] population—even among the 50 percent of units that are public housing units. And it was put there on purpose, on the edge of the city, because it was a place where nobody wanted to be, far away, and they could kind of ignore what the conditions were. Rilene and Chasity Dixon clean up the lawn in front of their East Lake Meadows apartment. Right away, there were problems, and that only increased as failures to maintain it became more and more of a problem, and funding just continued to evaporate, and you see the services originally intended to be put in place around it never materialized. To learn more or opt-out, read our Cookie Policy. This film will be available for streaming on demand for a limited time after each broadcast. Learn the history of East Lake Meadows, a former public housing community in Atlanta. I remember speaking with an EMT one time who said he would refuse to respond to calls at East Lake Meadows. East Lake Meadows: A Public Housing Story. How did it feel to actively take part in your home’s demise? The Lakes Management Unit has been collecting water quality data on Lake County lakes since the late 1960s. Above: Brandon Thrasher stands in front of East Lake apartment. East Lake Meadows A Public Housing Story (DVD) : Ken Burns presents and follows the transformation of a single struggling, impoverished Atlanta neighborhood over several years as community members apply a radical holistic revitalization program to improve the lives of every resident. By the end of the decade, East Lake went from being predominantly white to 90% African American. The makers of “East Lake Meadows: A Public Housing Story” probably would not have chosen to premiere their documentary (Tuesday, on PBS) in … Keep up with all the latest news, arts and culture, and TV highlights from KPBS. I want a good education.’ This idea that people as a general statement want to stay in their conditions because they want to be wards of the state [is] just not consistent with the evidence.”. Together, Tom, Greg, Renee, Carol, and Eva led the building of a cross-sector collaboration that laid the foundation for building a new East Lake. As far as when it came to the residents, the children. Now we did have good times in East Lake. White residents were told by local real estate agents, banks, and politicians that African Americans moving into their neighborhood would destroy their property values. Learn the history of East Lake Meadows, a former public housing community in Atlanta. But with a snappy soundtrack as its pulse, the documentary is also a celebration of life, chronicling families who invented their own fun and a network of grandmothers who held political—almost mafioso—might within the community. Atlanta, Ga. Circa 1990. It was very isolated at the time. Greg would join Carol in leading the East Lake collaborative on the ground, where they met Eva Davis, President of the East Lake Meadows Resident Association, an advocate for the families of East Lake. But as public housing … East Lake Meadows is a smaller section of town made up of several city blocks. As we tracked people down and talked to more and more, many of them said it needed to be torn down, but they also have fond memories and still, in many cases, feel a deep connection to this place that’s been gone for more than 20 years. That doesn’t surprise me. Often, some of the problems of a place like East Lake Meadows aren’t being solved, they’re being pushed somewhere else. Alongside academics, government officials, and journalists, Muhammad joins many former neighbors in recounting both the horrors and resilient, communal bonds that were forged during trying circumstances in a new PBS documentary that debuted Tuesday, East Lake Meadows: A Public Housing Story. Encouraged to join the conversation: # EastLakePBS place where we wouldn ’ t there before Atlanta. Retirement, Aseelah Muhammad now lives in College Park in charge are Delan... Hear people refer to the suburbs through east lake meadows summary rise of new infrastructure – the interstate highway.! 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