Despite Improvements Since 2019, Racial Inequities Persist in Atlanta, Report Says

Posted May 2, 2024
By the Annie E. Casey Foundation
A Black family strolls through a park. Hand-in-hand, they talk and laugh as a young boy in the foreground playfully runs.

Atlanta’s Black res­i­dents still face per­sis­tent bar­ri­ers in their com­mu­ni­ties, schools and access to eco­nom­ic oppor­tu­ni­ties, accord­ing to the Annie E. Casey Foundation’s new report, Chang­ing the Odds: Com­pre­hen­sive Solu­tions for Atlanta’s Future. Since 2015, the Chang­ing the Odds series has tracked neigh­bor­hood, edu­ca­tion and eco­nom­ic data by race to assess dis­par­i­ties and high­light solu­tions for pol­i­cy­mak­ers and busi­ness and com­mu­ni­ty leaders.


Despite improve­ments in some areas since the 2019 report, Atlantans still face per­sis­tent racial dis­par­i­ties. The report rec­om­mends that lead­ers pri­or­i­tize equi­table rede­vel­op­ment and address per­sis­tent inequal­i­ties in hous­ing, income and sav­ings to pre­vent Black res­i­dents from being dis­placed and to take full advan­tage of Atlanta’s con­tin­ued growth.

Instead of sim­ply call­ing out dis­par­i­ties, Chang­ing the Odds high­lights promis­ing poli­cies, pro­grams and prac­tices that are address­ing bar­ri­ers to oppor­tu­ni­ty,” said Tomi Hiers, vice pres­i­dent of the Annie E. Casey Foundation’s Cen­ter for Civic Sites and Com­mu­ni­ty Change. Work­ing togeth­er, we are see­ing these solu­tions pro­duce the best out­comes for Atlanta residents.”

The Casey Foun­da­tion has been track­ing Atlanta’s eco­nom­ic growth and racial dis­par­i­ties over the past decade. This year’s report fol­lows the seis­mic shifts brought about by the COVID-19 pan­dem­ic and protests for racial equi­ty. It tracks pre­vi­ous and new data indi­ca­tors to exam­ine racial dis­par­i­ties over the past decade and their impli­ca­tions for Atlantans.

While progress has been made, dis­par­i­ties con­tin­ue to impede too many Atlantans’ abil­i­ty to live a qual­i­ty life. Crush­ing hous­ing costs, long­stand­ing gaps in sav­ings and income and lack of access to financ­ing and bank­ing ser­vices present steep hur­dles for Black fam­i­lies, who are more like­ly to lack access to three months of sav­ings to make ends meet than white res­i­dents. Key take­aways from this year’s report include:

  • Atlanta Pub­lic Schools have seen remark­able progress in high school grad­u­a­tion rates, with an all-time high of 87% in 2023 and gaps shrink­ing for Black and Lati­no students.
  • Black stu­dents have sig­nif­i­cant­ly less access to Advanced Place­ment and oth­er advanced course­work that would pre­pare them for col­lege courses.
  • The city’s afford­able hous­ing remains in short sup­ply. In 2021 alone, Atlanta fell more than 105,000 homes short of meet­ing exist­ing demand.
  • Atlanta’s income, sav­ings and delin­quent debt dis­par­i­ties have pro­duced the sec­ond-low­est eco­nom­ic mobil­i­ty num­bers in the coun­try, mean­ing chil­dren in house­holds with low income have less of a chance of reach­ing a high­er income group in adulthood.
  • Chil­dren who live in low-pover­ty areas have bet­ter eco­nom­ic, health and social out­comes than chil­dren who live in high-pover­ty areas. Over half of Atlanta’s chil­dren live in low-pover­ty areas, and the per­cent­age of Black chil­dren liv­ing in low-pover­ty areas has increased sig­nif­i­cant­ly since 2012.

This year’s Chang­ing the Odds calls on lead­ers to invest in poli­cies and prac­tices that:

  • pro­vide equi­table devel­op­ment and more afford­able hous­ing oppor­tu­ni­ties for residents;
  • incor­po­rate com­mu­ni­ty-led solu­tions to com­mu­ni­ty challenges;
  • pro­vide more chil­dren with access to the qual­i­ty ear­ly edu­ca­tion and rig­or­ous course­work they need for their devel­op­ment and future;
  • fund com­mu­ni­ty-based providers to deliv­er resources for entre­pre­neurs of col­or as they launch and expand their busi­ness­es; and
  • pro­mote finan­cial sta­bil­i­ty for low-income fam­i­lies with state tax cred­its and income sup­ple­ments like the child tax cred­it and Earned Income Tax Credit.

Atlanta has a vibrant econ­o­my and con­tin­ues to be an attrac­tive city, but the data show us that too many Atlantans are being left behind,” said Kweku Forstall, direc­tor of the Foundation’s Atlanta Civic Site. Too often we ask peo­ple to beat the odds when real­ly the odds are stacked against them. We must come togeth­er to change the odds so that all Atlantans have access to the resources they need to lead full lives and reach their full potential.”

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