Housing Justice: Two Steps Forward, One Step Back

Last week, we met with our community partners for the first time, attended the Integrated Network for Social Sustainability (INSS) conference, and gained new insight, connections, and a clearer vision of our timeline and final products.

We met with Sarah Stein, an attorney with the Atlanta Legal Aid Society, to discuss Atlanta Legal Aid’s work and to learn more about the case against Harbour Portfolio Advisors. Our main goal for this project is to create an interactive mapping tool to help Atlanta Legal Aid visualize the Harbour properties and other properties in the area to assist with their case. Although a group of Georgia Tech students started on a similar tool last semester, it currently does not have enough of the functionality that Atlanta Legal Aid needs for it to be useful, so we have decided to start over with our own Web App. Here are some snapshots of our app so far:

Bhavya, Keria, and Vishwa have already started creating the tool collaboratively using PHP, Leaflet, and some other platforms. We hope to check in with Atlanta Legal Aid frequently during the design process to incorporate the features that are most important to them, including search and editing functions, overlays for different racial densities and housing prices, toggles to view different sets of properties, sale information for each property, and potentially even information about past evictions. To support this tool, Jeremy has been compiling several databases with information about parcel characteristics and sales transactions. We are still awaiting data from Atlanta Legal Aid, and from Dekalb County.

Big developments related to our second project, Atlanta’s Anti-Displacement Tax Fund, occurred last week. We discovered a report by Matt Bedsole from APD Urban Planning and Management with rigorous predictions of the Anti-Displacement Tax’s reach and potential cost over the next 20 years. This is exactly what we had been hoping to accomplish with this portion of the project. On Thursday, Amanda, Hayley and some other community members met with APD and learned more about their plans related to the project. With the discovery of this information, we have to re-evaluate what we will work for this portion of the project. This weekend, we closely examined the report’s analysis to see if there are any factors we would like to experiment with through our own modeling. We are also looking at ways to make this information more consumable for the community.

Overall, we’re excited to get settled into more clearly defined roles on our project this week. The INSS conference encouraged critical thinking about moral progress and working collaboratively with the community, and we look forward to keeping this in mind as we develop tools with our community partners in mind.