Elijah Porter

Candidate for Atlanta City Council District 3

Website: www.elijahforatlanta.com

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What immediate actions can city council take to aid in curbing the violent crime occurring in Atlanta?

Violent crime is an intrinsic consequence of poverty. Solutions that do not recognize social inequity that breed conditions for violence are only piecemeal and will never create real substantial change in the community. 

A 2004 study, conducted by the Georgia State University, while Atlanta ranked 5th when compared to other U.S. cities for its 2003 rate of 34 homicides per 100,000 residents. However, after comparing these rates with socioeconomic factors, the ranking plummeted to 40th across the country. This revealed that most violent crime in our city is driven by social factors such as poverty and unemployment.

This is further demonstrated by the spike in violent crime as a result of surging unemployment rates as a result of the pandemic.  Crime is up nearly 60 percent and the unemployment rate in Atlanta nearly quadrupled in April 2020. This absolutely correlates to the fact h that the median income in Atlanta is only $35,553. Nationally, this is not sustainable for a family of two attempting to live above the poverty line. 

Thus I believe to curb violent crime, we must cure the inadequate social conditions that necessitate it. Immediate actions city council can take include: (1) stabilization of the workforce and small business empowerment through quarterly city-sponsored job fairs; (2) city investment in job training and apprenticeship programs; (3) city sponsored grants to organizations that provide free job training and occupational licensing programs; and (4) elimination of collateral offenses that create barriers to employment. 

Will you make affordable housing a priority of your term on the council, and what actions need to be taking to insure meeting the goal of 20,000 affordable homes by 2026?

Yes, affordable housing would be a top priority if elected to serve on city council. Housing and food security are the central necessities to life and is a basic human right – as such our city should ensure every Atlanta residents’ access to those right. The city’s major investment by way of the partnership with Partners for Home, Inc. to place nearly 500 people into permanent housing with access to wrap-around services, led to a 24% reduction of individuals in homeless shelters across the city during a pandemic. Atlanta has found the recipe and continued reinvestment in this partnership is essential. Additionally, to ensure the goal of 20,000 affordable homes by 2026, it is necessary to allocate a portion of the city budget to construction and allotting certain city property to housing cites for these new communities. 

The Fourth Regional Plan organization reported that metropolitan areas across the country has created an affordability crisis that has placed more than one million households at risk of being displaced from their homes. From increases of property taxes to increases of housing costs, now more than ever, it is necessary to generate strategies to subverting displacement and support more permanently affordable and “resident-controlled housing” to “increase wealth in lower-income communities.” If elected, I will support legislation to improve renting, strengthening tenant protections, and economic wealth building for families that are facing housing insecurity in the following ways: (1) revising and enforcing the Atlanta housing code – providing strict penalties/fines for landlords and rent deduction for tenants that are housed in units with inadequate housing conditions; (2) allotting some of the city’s publicly owned land to create permanent affordable housing and reinvesting in shared-equity ownership structures; (3) reinvesting in public housing; (4) renewing all eviction moratoriums to extend until the decrease in the spread of COVID-19; and (5) working with local property owners to extend city contracts for affordable housing.   

Will transit on the Atlanta BeltLine corridor be a top priority and how will you work to fast-track it?

The easiest way the Atlanta BeltLine is to reallocate city resources to the development project. If elected, I will advocate for increased investment in the project to fund more contractors and other city employees. 

What can the council do prioritize combatting climate change? 

Mobilizing a comprehensive strategy to combat climate change, requires a reinvestment into efficient city services and proactive strategies to a greener-Atlanta. Furthermore, sustainability is paramount to Atlanta’s continued growth and vitality. The sustainability initiatives that have been most successful in Atlanta are: (1) Atlanta Better Building Challenge (450+ buildings committing to reduce energy and water usage by 20% by 2020; (2) Stormwater/Green Infrastructure Plan (as a solution to urban flooding). To contribute to sustainability initiatives, I believe that increasing beautification in neighborhoods that have been marked by blight is necessary and important. I will sponsor initiatives to establish urban gardens in the city of Atlanta, which not only improves environmental concerns but also acts as a smaller solution in the larger issue of food insecurity.

What are three issues specifically affecting your district that you plan to address while on council?

Three major issues currently impacting District 3 are: (1) housing insecurity; (2) inefficient city services for elderly and disabled community members; and (3) crime. If elected, I will commit to the following during my tenure:

  1. As articulated, crime is a result of circumstance – one of the largest of which being poverty. By increasing access to meaningful employment for Atlanta families and utilizing pre-emptive diversion strategies for vulnerable youth, conditions for crime will significantly decrease.
  2. Our most vulnerable populations seldom have advocacy for their unique issues to access for city services. A first priority of my office will be to establish a Senior Services Division in District 3 to provide quality and unique services for elderly and disabled community members, while also acting as governing body to hear complaints and adjust our city service delivery accordingly.
  1. Housing insecurity has been a major priority for the City of Atlanta over the last two years, continuing the partnership with Partners for Home, Inc. is essential. I will also advocate for the allotting of city property to convert to new communities for residents experiencing homelessness. 

Collin Kelley

Collin Kelley has been the editor of Atlanta Intown for two decades and has been a journalist and freelance writer for 35 years. He’s also an award-winning poet and novelist.