East Lake Meadows: A Public Housing Story
East Lake Meadows: A Public Housing Story screening and discussion

East Lake Meadows: A Public Housing Story screening and discussion

Thursday, March 5, 2020 5:30pm

Through the stories of former residents, East Lake Meadows gives voice to some of the most marginalized people in our society and raises critical questions about how we, as a nation, have created concentrated poverty and limited housing opportunity for African Americans, and what can be done to address it. Following the screening of the film, WBFO News Director Dave Debo will moderate a discussion about the film, public housing, and other race and socioeconomic issues. Among the panelists will be “East lake Meadows: A Public Housing Story” filmmaker, David McMahon.

Free screening of Ken Burns’ presents “East Lake Meadows: A Public Housing Story.”

Thursday, March 5, at 5:30pm
WNED PBS Studios at Buffalo Toronto Public Media
140 Lower Terrace Buffalo, NY
Free parking, handicap accessible

5pm Doors open
5:30pm Program begins
7pm Program ends

Tickets:
About the Program

In 1970, the Atlanta Housing Authority opened the 650-unit public housing community called East Lake Meadows on the edge of Atlanta. Built on the former practice golf course of the Atlanta Athletic Club, which had moved north as part of the white flight that was impacting Atlanta and cities around the country, East Lake Meadows quickly became home to many thousands of low-income Atlantans, mostly African American.

Initially praised for the spacious units and new construction, East Lake Meadows quickly became known as “little Vietnam,” a moniker that was intended to capture the rampant crime and violence that overwhelmed the community.

Shoddy construction and a lack of funding left the project and surrounding landscape in disrepair and led to a rapid decline in the quality of life. As public housing developments in Atlanta and across the country were further abandoned and stigmatized, and as a drug epidemic swept through cities, East Lake Meadows became nearly uninhabitable. In the mid-1990s, Atlanta bulldozed the housing project to make way for new mixed-income housing, as government and philanthropic funds poured into the area in an effort to create a thriving community.

As the film shows, however, residents — many of whom had no other place to go — continued to call it home, creating strong bonds despite the many challenges they faced.

Through the stories of former residents, “East Lake Meadows: A Public Housing Story” gives voice to some most marginalized people in our society and raises critical questions about how we, as a nation, have created concentrated poverty and limited housing opportunities for African Americans, and what can be done to address it.

Following the screening, WBFO News Director Dave Debo will moderate a discussion about the film, public housing and other race and socioeconomic issues. Among the panelists will be “East lake Meadows: A Public Housing Story” filmmaker, David McMahon.

The city of Buffalo has its share of public housing challenges. About 55 percent of Buffalo renter households pay more than the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development standard. That’s worse than the 52.5 percent median for nearly 1,000 U.S. cities surveyed by the Federal Reserve. WBFO, Buffalo Toronto Public Media’s NPR station’s Racial Equity Project is working to address issues just like these and has already tackled them broadly in a Facebook Live event titled “Housing in Black & White.” The screening event aims to increase community engagement on this issue and help to bring more of these challenges to our community’s attention. The event will open the dialogue so the community can begin to enact change.

“East lake Meadows: A Public Housing Story” will be broadcast in its entirety on Tuesday, March 24 at 8pm on WNED PBS.

Watch a Preview of East Lake Meadows

Trailer | EAST LAKE MEADOWS: A PUBLIC HOUSING STORY

Learn the history of East Lake Meadows, a former public housing community in Atlanta. Stories from residents reveal hardship and resilience, and raise critical questions about race, poverty, and who is deserving of public assistance.