Mother Moore – a Veteran in Atlanta’s Fight for Better Community Planning
After doing nonprofit, housing and city planning work in New Jersey, Illinois, New Hampshire, Virginia, North Carolina, and California, Mother Moore settled in Georgia and was distraught by the poverty she saw in the heart of the city.
Mother Moore is one of the many activists in the fight for affordable housing. As leading member of Atlanta’s Beloved Community organization, for nearly five decades, Moore has been working all over the United States, replanning communities that have lost hope to be sustainable communities.
Gentrification is the process of reconstructing a poor neighborhood or district in order to appease to a middle-class aesthetic. The result of this action increases the cost of living, therefore pushing out residents who can’t afford the new prices. Gentrification drastically changes the demographics and overall identity of a neighborhood.
Moore felt the sting of gentrification herself. “I left from Asbury Park, New Jersey. The same kind of gentrification that was happening here happened there, but it happened very rapidly. When we left a house a like this was $1500 [to] $3,000. You couldn’t afford to rent anything if you were a family of any size, so we decided to move south to be able to just economically survive.”
Some examples of Atlanta neighborhoods that have faced gentrification include Old Fourth Ward, Kirkwood, and Edgewood. In Edgewood, the average price of a home used to be $100,000. By 2016 it increased to $300,000. The spike in prices make it so poor people have a slim chance in being able to raise their families in safe neighborhoods with good education.“The quality of life was discriminatory” says Moore.
In 1990 Atlanta’s population consisted of 67% Black people,1.7% Hispanics, and 31% white people. In 2016, it was recorded that Atlanta consisted of 54% hispanics, 5% Black, and 38% White people.
Moore says the most difficult thing when she moved to Atlanta was the apathy, the culture of poverty. “People were so negative about themselves and the members in the community…I would ask them ‘are you a bad person?’ [and they would say] ‘No I’m not a bad person’. People had bought into the ‘negative] media description of what this neighborhood was. That everyone’s a drug addict, everyone’s a prostitute, we’re a dessert and dogs are walking around.”
Beloved Community goal isn’t to focus on race or class, but to make sure communities of all financial incomes and cultural backgrounds are possible. She stresses that in order for struggling neighborhoods to withstand the negative effects of gentrification, “Everybody [in the community] must make a contribution…Know the plan, and advocate for the plan.” Says Moore.
This interview was conducted in August of 2018. The full interview transcription can be found here.