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City Council Stalls on Housing Task Force Resolution
(APN) ATLANTA -- The Atlanta City Council voted Monday, December 03, 2007, to first amend and then send back to Committee a resolution that would have created a Task Force to study the effects of the Atlanta Housing Authority's (AHA) Quality of Life Initiative on public housing residents.
It was thought the Council would take definitive action on the resolution that also would have asked the AHA to halt the demolition and renovation schedules of two senior high rises, Palmer House and Roosevelt House, until adequate alternative housing could be found for the affected seniors.
AHA's plans, thus, are currently unaffected. AHA had told residents at Palmer House that relocation teams would begin moving residents in January 2008, even though Atlanta Progressive News reported this week HUD has not signed off on such a plan. AHA's director Renee Glover told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution newspaper that those plans are now on hold.
The Community Development and Human Resources Committee (CDHR) unanimously sent the resolution to full Council on November 26, 2007, including a provision stating that information about how big the task force would be and who would appoint those members would be developed by the bills' co-sponsors over the weekend. The co-sponsors are Councilmen Kwanza Hall and Ivory Lee Young.
During that CDHR meeting, Councilman Young, Jr. noted that the bill had been in Committee "for quite some time now," leaving one to wonder why details of how the Task Force would be appointed had not been worked out sooner.
Young also urged his colleagues that day to "aggressively move this forward" and "quickly fill the seats of the Task Force."
But Young doomed his own legislation when he offered a controversial amendment addressing who would appoint the Task Force.
Some Members raised objections to a provision in the amendment that AHA Executive Director Renee Glover and the AHA Board of Commissioners would be among those who each get to appoint one member.
"The Task Force can't make any forward progress without input from the Housing Authority," Young said in defense.
Councilman Clarence T. Martin said the parties in question have already had a chance to solve the relocation problem and have failed.
"It's important we have the AHA at the table," Councilman Kwanza Hall, coauthor of the resolution, said. "It's important that we have some mediation."
Martin and Councilwoman Felicia Moore said they would be willing to support the amendment if Young agreed to remove the parties in question but Young did not.
Members generally did not appear to have a problem with the other parties who would get to appoint one representative apiece: Mayor Shirley Franklin, President of the City Council Lisa Borders, the American Association of Retired People (AARP), the Fulton County Council on Aging, and each of the affected public housing communities.
The City Council would appoint a total of three members with each vote divided equally among council districts. For example, districts one, two, three, four, and post one at large would vote as a group.
Councilwomen Mary Norwood and Joyce Sheperd suggested adding, respectively, a geriatric specialist and a member from the Atlanta Commission on the Aging.
Martin suggested adding a representative from Atlanta Legal Aid, a group that has worked closely with public housing residents who are facing eviction.
Ultimately, the Council approved the amendment without making any changes.
But Young said the legislation had been drafted "rather hurriedly" and inexplicably moved to send the entire resolution, as amended, back to Committee for further consideration.
One source familiar with the matter told Atlanta Progressive News that Atlanta Housing Authority had engaged in intensive backstage lobbying with the City Council and that Young had already agreed to send the bill back to Committee before the Meeting occurred.
"We will thoughtfully look at the legislation [and] bring closure by the end of January," Young said.
Neither the City Council nor the CDHR Committee meet again this year, ensuring residents at Palmer House will be on their own come January.
About the author:
Jonathan Springston is a Senior Staff Writer for Atlanta Progressive News and may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
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