Tearing Down Oakhurst: An Oral History of Gentrification. Premiered March 11, 2014, at Charis Books and More/Charis Circle, Atlanta, Ga.
Decatur, Georgia’s Oakhurst neighborhood occupies about one quarter of the suburban Atlanta city’s four square miles. It is not the inner city, yet Oakhurst has an urban biography that links it to some of America’s most economically and socially troubled cities. In the 1970s, the neighborhood that was later rebranded as Oakhurst shared space in congressional hearings and urban housing studies with neighborhoods in Chicago, New York City, Philadelphia, Detroit, Washington, and Baltimore.
In 1975 Decatur, along with neighboring Atlanta, became one of 23 pilot Urban Homesteading Demonstration Program cities that the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development selected to implement a dollar home program. Qualified applicants secured the titles to homes and low-interest rehabilitation loans to bring the properties up to code in exchange for a commitment to live in the house for at least three years.
The HUD program was the catalyst for more than 30 years of changes to people and place that made Decatur a living laboratory on the effects of public and private interventions in a distressed suburban neighborhood. This video documents gentrification in Oakhurst and serial displacement’s impacts beyond the urban core: the inner ring suburb.
Documentary video written and produced by David S. Rotenstein, Ph.D. Audio oral histories recorded between November 2011 and January 2013. Video and stills recorded between October 2011 and January 2014.