I have been debating cataloging every “for rent” sign that I pass in the Old Fourth Ward. It may be a task that I am not up to. There are a lot of living spaces opening up, being renovated, and being built. There are a lot of houses, apartments, and lofts for rent. That’s not inherently problematic. It’s great that people are moving downtown. The problematic part is that as the neighborhood becomes more desirable to a more diverse group of people, living spaces take that competitive housing hunt as an opportunity to jack up the price a little bit. But eventually, a little will feel like a lot and people will get pushed out.
I’m starting with this picture of a “for rent” sign out in front of my apartment complex. First, let me assure you that this blog is not an act of self-preservation. I don’t want to pay the extra $100 a month. But I’m thinking about the people who can’t pay the extra $100 a month.
We had an amicable landlord who we saw fairly often. One day, abruptly we were notified that our leases had changed hands by a note shoved in the door. The notification was abrupt. They hadn’t, despite their attempts, managed discretion. We were a little suspicious when they performed a “maintenance check” with measuring tape while I worked in bed in pajamas. We get to ride out the terms of our lease.
The new property owners are re-branding our shabby little apartment complex as “loft style”. When we first arrived, there were a bunch of empty units. The tenants were mostly older black people and Latino families. Since our arrival the empty units have been filled with young white people without children and young black couples without children. Mulch has been laid. Doors have been pressure washed and painted. Some units have been renovated. One family has already disappeared.
Another “for rent” sign right on the Atlanta Beltline. The street these crusty apartments are on used to dead end into scary underbrush and kudzu. Now it’s back porches are on the Beltline. I’m complaining about a lousy $100. I can’t even imagine how their rent has skyrocketed in the past year or so. Good luck, Old Fourth Ward denizens, gentrifiers and original residents alike.