WHY THE NEED
Located in the heart of poverty, hopelessness, and violence, Rebuild the City Inc. is surrounded by gang members who actively recruit young children into lives of violence and drugs. Poverty and addictions have sent many to live on the streets.
Rebuild the City Inc. answer to the above mentioned lawlessness; is situated within the inner city of South Atlanta inside Atlanta’s southeast region on the corner of Jonesboro Road and Melton Street. Adjoining South Atlanta is the “Lakewood Heights” community primarily comprised of Lakewood Avenue residents between Jonesboro Road and Pryor Street. These connecting neighborhoods encompass an under-class, low-income community comprised of 30,000 residents, 85% African American, on 800 acres, in approximately 6,300 apartment units and residential housing.
Many of these properties are extremely distressed and abandoned. The residents are generally unskilled and welfare dependent. Countless are homeless. Two-thirds of the populations are either youth who reside in single parent households, group homes or with grandparents. Due to a pervasive nihilism, teenage/adult prostitution, alcohol and drug abuse are rampant.
South Atlanta/Lakewood Heights is not only in desperate need of spiritual and economic revitalization, but also in need of an infusion of hope. The poverty along South Atlanta/Lakewood is undeniably desperate and was venerable well before our nation’s current economic dilemma. Even the most casual observer sees the blight and feels the deep sense of despair of a Haiti type situation that exists in our own backyard.
The most significant secular problem faced by residents in the Lakewood Heights community is poverty. Contrary to popular stereotypes, residential and public housing residents in the inner city do not lack intelligence, talent or ambition. Rather they lack income! This is because the poor within the inner city have extremely limited skills necessary to access employment and higher education. The lack of jobs or income often leads to poverty. Poverty breeds hopelessness, despair, and desperation. Crime and violence emerge from this toxic environment.
The South Atlanta / Lakewood community, which birthed Rebuild The City Inc., now faces a crisis of catastrophic proportions.
Approximately 9.5 million people reside in the state of Georgia. According to the 2007 US census report, 58% of Georgia’s population is incarcerated. Georgia’s incarnation rate is the nation’s highest, second only to the state of Texas. It is alleged that 80% of Atlanta’s metro area inmates come from two primary zip codes: 30315 and 30318. Thus, the South Atlanta/Lakewood community zip code, 30315 is ground zero. In the US, among males between the ages of 20 to 34 years, one out of thirty is incarcerated. For African American males in the same age group one out of nine are incarcerated. Because of such high incarnation rates, in 2006, the United States spent more than 49 billion dollars on corrections, a 38 billion dollar increase from 1986. In the state of Georgia, the general fund budget spends 50 cent on corrections for every dollar that it spends on higher education.