The gap between the city’s rich and poor remains the highest in the country. Here’s why that matters for middle class city dwellers—and suburbanites.
The richest Atlanta households earn almost 20 times more than the city’s poorest residents: $288,159 compared to $14,988.
Driving from Spring Street to Joseph Lowery Blvd. takes you through a microcosm of the gaps between the city’s rich and poor.
I wish I could say that last week’s Brookings Institution report stating that Atlanta has the highest income disparity of any big U.S. city was a surprise. But it wasn’t. As I read through the details of the analysis—which compares the ratio of the city’s top earners to those in the lowest fifth of household incomes—I couldn’t shake a particular mental image: a drive that I have made dozens of times in recent months while reporting a story for next month’s issue of the magazine.
The city’s wealthiest earn almost 20 times as much as the poorest
You don’t have to be a statistician or policy analyst to understand that there’s a huge gap between Atlanta’s haves and haves-not. Just walk down Edgewood Avenue on any given evening, where you will find one group of people sleeping on the sidewalks of the Downtown Connector underpass and another paying $20 for parking spots in an empty lot near a bar called Church.
The innovative program aims to house 800 people this year
Back in 2012, after Atlanta bested thirteen other cities in a contest to house 100 homeless veterans in 100 days, Mayor Kasim Reed announced that the city would do even better in 2013 by helping 800 chronically homeless Atlantans—a significant percentage of whom are veterans—move into permanent homes by the end of the year. As of late September, the [Unsheltered No More Initiative] was on its way to meeting that goal, with 700 people moved off the street.