I moved to Atlanta from Brooklyn, New York in 2006 and realized early on that there was no place in America like it. From the food to the cost of living to the entertainment options to the music scene to, well everything. Atlanta is a unique slice of Americana that has been the scene of every major sports and entertainment milestone since the Summer Olympic Games took place downtown in 1996. 

Atlanta has never been the same, and for many people, including myself, that is a great thing. For many others however, the changes that have taken place -increase in traffic, the rise in rents and property taxes, an uptick in violence- are not so good. Metro Atlanta, which is made up of 11 counties north and south of the capital city, saw just under 65,000 new residents last year, according to data from the Atlanta Regional Commission (ARC). The population of the 11-county area has ballooned to 5.1 million or more than either Arkansas or Iowa. 

The Atlanta Voice staff is answering its own question -Is Atlanta worth it?- by exploring many of the topics mentioned above. Is it worth it to move to Atlanta to start your career? Is it worth it to buy a home in Atlanta? Is it worth it to go out in Atlanta compared to how much it once was? Is it worth it to come to Atlanta for college? 

Is Atlanta worth it? For me, 16 years ago, it was. For many others it has been as well. The question might be will it ever be worth it again?

Donnell Suggs


The Atlanta Voice

A Georgia Capitol Police cruiser outside of the State Capitol, Thursday, October 27, 2022. Photo by Menra Mapfumo/The Atlanta Voice

Public Safety:

Do you feel safe in Atlanta?

By Isaiah Singleton

With rising inflation, a lingering pandemic, the cost of living in Atlanta and across the nation have increased tremendously.

Recent events and increasing prices on everything bring the question, “Is living in the city of Atlanta worth it?” [Editor’s note: We are using the city limits of Atlanta in this case. Not the 11-county metro Atlanta area]

While looking at factors such as cost of living, transportation, education, entertainment, and career opportunities, another factor to consider is safety.

According to U.S. News, the City of Atlanta is ranked #95 as the best places to live in the U.S. and #90 in the best places to retire.

Even though crime rates are dropping, Atlanta is still considered a dangerous city, however crime rates vary dramatically by neighborhood, according to LifeStorageBlog.

In 2022, according to the Atlanta Police Department (APD) crime records, there has been 86 murders, 1,921 aggravated assaults, 88 rapes, and 379 robberies so far.

Additionally, there have been 918 burglaries/breaking and entering, 1,582 motor vehicle thefts, and 7,167 thefts. Theft is broken down into shoplifting, theft from motor vehicles, and all other larceny, according to the APD.

2021 v. 2020 Crime Rates Statistics:

In 2021, there were 158 murders reported compared to 2020’s 157 reported, a 1% decrease, according to the APD.

166 rape cases were reported, compared to 119 in 2020, a 39% increase. However, that same year, 803 robbery cases were reported, as opposed to 872 cases in 2020, an 8% decrease.

2,529 Aggravated Assault charges were reported versus 2,320 in 2020, a 9% increase. 1,628 Burglary charges were reported in 2021, compared to 2,120 in 2021, a 23% decrease. Larceny/Auto charges in 2021 had a 3% decrease (8,096) compared to 2020 with 8,375. Auto Theft in 2021 was reported at 3,057 compared to 3,081 in 2020, a 1% decrease.

In 2017, Atlanta had a 367.6 violent crime rate over time, compared to a 382.9 violent crime rate over time nationally that same year. The crime rate is the number of crimes committed per 100,000 people.

An apartment at 12Hundred Studios in the Hunter Hills neighborhood. The studio apartments will rent for nearly $1,000-per-month. Photo by Donnell Suggs/The Atlanta Voice


Is $1,000 per month affordable? A few private developers are saying that it is

By Donnell Suggs

With music playing, people mingling about and a food truck offering free tacos, a ribbon-cutting took place in front of what was once one of the most dilapidated residential properties on the Westside. The apartments at the corner of Mobile and Troy streets in the Hunter Hills neighborhood had been abandoned and undeveloped for decades. On a sunny morning in October people mingled about as if the front yard of 1200 Mobile Street wasn’t once the very last place you would see men in suits and women in dresses and heels having a good time. Where there was once no housing at all to speak of is now being hailed as “affordable” housing: 12Hundred Studios.

“I’m usually standing up here because I gave away some money,” Atlanta Mayor Andre Dickens joked as he referenced the combined efforts of a trio of developers, lenders and capital partners to bring the project to life. The 40-unit, garden-style apartment complex is a combined effort from Tenth Street Ventures, an Atlanta-based real estate company, Alexander Goshen, a Florida-based real estate  development company and ARRC Capital Partners, a multifamily property management and renovation company based in Atlanta. 

The senior loan for the project was provided by The Atlanta Affordable Housing Fund, a social impact fund that was launched in January 2020, with equity provided by American South Real Estate Fund, an Atlanta-based investor that has financed similar projects “in emerging low and moderate-income neighborhoods in ten southern states,” according to the ‘About’ page on its website. 

The “move-in ready” apartments are fully furnished with rents at 60% Area Median Income (a measure of resident’s average income in a specific area), according to Tenth Street Ventures CEO Brain MacCarthy. “Just walk in with your clothes and your suitcase and everything is ready for you,” he said prior to the ribbon being cut. 

The units are being branded as affordable with the studio apartments renting for just under $1,000-per-month. A walk-through of one of the units available to the media for photos took mere seconds. The units were clean and indeed fully furnished, because you only need 3-4 pieces of furniture to accomplish that goal.

Financing taking care of with no burden to the city of Atlanta. Units fully furnished with no burden to the renters moving in. Fresh paint in the apartments and murals in the courtyard from local artists Kendall Deon and Eric Nine. “We wanted to have something that the community could be a part of,” said Deon, who wore a paint-splattered t-shirt that read ‘Artist at work.’ “Something they could take pride in.” 

A combined effort to provide housing that even includes local artists, what could be wrong? The price. The apartments are around $1,000 per month. The affordability tag is being placed on residential projects like these all over Atlanta with the median household income 

This is part of Dickens’ plan for creating or preserving 20,000 affordable housing units in Atlanta over the next five years. “Twenty thousand is a stake in the sand, the demand for affordable housing far outstrips that,” said Atlanta Housing Board Chair Larry Stewart during a Grove Park Speaks meeting Monday night. Grove Park, one of Atlanta’s historically Black neighborhoods that is facing gentrification. Here’s one man’s story of getting a piece of the homeownership pie before it was too late and of a locally-focused organization that is trying to help.


A sign at the border of the Grove Park section. Microsoft is building a campus in the neighborhood. Photo by Donnell Suggs/The Atlanta Voice

‘We wanted to feel a sense of ownership:’ A Grove Park resident finds a home for his family

By Donnell Suggs

As tears streamed down his face, Swift told the story of the day he and his wife Stacey found out they had been pre-approved for the home loan they needed to purchase their house in Grove Park. The couple and their three daughters, Jasmine, Summer and Shayla, had been renting in the historic Black neighborhood for a few years and wanted to buy a home and put down roots. “That feeling is more than just,” he paused, “we wanted to feel a sense of ownership,” he said of that moment. 

Swift and Stacey were part of the Neighborhood Opportunities for Wealth (N.O.W.) Financial Capability Program, a Grove Park Foundation program, which has 6-month and one-year program that aim to educate, coach and prepare participants for home ownership by addressing their specific financial needs and challenges. 80% of Grove Park residents are renters, according to Grove Park Renewal, a local organization located on Donald Lee Hollowell Parkway which buys abandoned or condemned properties in the neighborhood in order to make them livable again. The goal being to not allow outside developers, or try to at least slow the influx of outside developers from coming into the neighborhood, buying property and ultimately pricing the locals like Swift and his family out. 

“All we need to know is that it’s possible,” said Swift, who is a popular local rapper, about homeownership. As a kid growing up in Long Island, New York and in Philadelphia, he had moved every year of his young life. He never had a chance to make too many friends or to call one neighborhood home. “I’m 41 years old and I have no childhood friends,” he said. “I wanted different for my kids.” 

Fifth Third Bank recently invested $180 million in nine neighborhoods in nine cities as part of the Empowering Black Futures Neighborhood Program, Grove Park being the Atlanta city of the bunch. Representatives from the Cincinnati-based bank were in town Monday talking to residents during the Grove Park Speaks meeting hosted by the Grove Park Foundation in a meeting space inside the newly renovated YMCA. Lower and moderate income (LMI) neighborhoods in Chicago, Tampa, Columbus, Ohio, Louisville and Cleveland are also on the list. “That was intentional,” said Kala Gibson, Executive Vice President and Chief Enterprise Corporate Responsibility Officer. “We said we need to have some type of neighborhood program because everything starts in the neighborhood.” 

Gibson said the company picked nine predominantly historic Black neighborhoods because of the divestment in those neighborhoods. “The whole premise of this is that we’re going to bring these communities back to their glory and make sure that all of the wealth-building that is going to occur in these communities are happening with the legacy residents that actually live there.” 

In April tech giant Microsoft announced that it would be building a 90-acre campus in Grove Park.  With that announcement has come a rise in interest from developers, home buyers and home builders. Today you can’t drive 100 feet in Grove park without seeing construction take place. Two years ago the word ‘disinvestment’ could have easily described the neighborhood. 

Interest and investments from the Fifth Third Banks and Microsofts of the world has been good for many neighborhood residents like Swift and his family. It also has led to a rise in property value and thus property taxes. Is it worth it to stay in Grove Park? Swift says yes, “I want to leave something behind for my kids,” he said. “My mother passed away and she couldn’t leave anything for us. I don’t want that for my kids.”

The cost of education for a four-year-old in Georgia still averages nearly $7,300-per-year. Photo by Donnell Suggs/The Atlanta Voice

The Cost of Education/Scholastic

By: Ann Hill Bond 

How much does it cost for education in the City of Atlanta? Families with small children attending early education face an uphill battle leading to a statewide conversion among Black voters regarding access to affordable childcare. 

An Atlanta parent will spend about $20,000 annually on infant care, about 34% of the city’s average household median income. Once the child approaches school age, families experience a significant cost decrease with Georgia Pre-K. However, the cost of education for a four-year-old still averages nearly $7,300.

Atlanta residents experience an average inflation rate of 2.4% each year. In the city of Atlanta 17% of all K-12 students are educated in private schools compared to the GA state average of 8%. The average tuition cost for a private remote education in Atlanta is $16,152, about 25% higher than the average Georgia private school tuition cost of $11,311. If a parent decides on private education for their child within Atlanta city limits, there is a 49% possibility that the private school has a religious affiliation predominantly Christian or Catholic. 

In Atlanta there are 132 private schools serving 28,182 students. Atlanta Public Schools (APS), the public school system for the city of Atlanta, contains 87 schools public schools serving 51,012 public students, according to its website. Fifty-one percent of each dollar paid in property taxes goes toward public education in the city of Atlanta. APS average annual revenue is $1,144,904,000; it spends $17,570 per student each year. The national average is about $12,200 per student each year. 

A household with two working adults with up to three children in Atlanta has yearly expenses of $75,000-$100,000. The cost of education in the Atlanta is higher than the state average. In the state of Georgia, according to Education Week, Georgia ranks 1st in the U.S. in connecting the K-12 education system with early learning, higher education, and the world of work and 17th in the nation for K-12 achievement. 

However, APS has an average math proficiency score of 35% and a reading proficiency score of 39%, placing it in the bottom 50% of the state. With the current cost of education and the current quality of public education, families are forced to decide whether Atlanta worth it in regard to education?   

James P. Brawley Hall on the campus of Clark Atlanta University. Photo by Menra Mapfumo/The Atlanta Voice


HBCU students give different perspectives of living in Atlanta

By Menra Mapfumo

Atlanta is home to six Historical Black Colleges/Universities (HBCUs), Clark Atlanta University (CAU), Interdenominational Theological Center (ITC), Morehouse College, Morris Brown College, Spelman College and the Morehouse School of Medicine.

These schools are some of the most prestigious HBCUs and the cost of attending is a hefty price. [Editor’s Note: The prices listed do not include financial aid, grants, and scholarships.]

The cost of attendance for undergraduate on-campus students this year at Clark Atlanta University is $36,876 a year. For undergraduate off-campus students the cost is $25,876 a year. Graduate student costs vary. ITC graduate students are paying a flat rate of $14,000 a year if they are taking 9 or more credit hours.

The cost of attendance at Morehouse College is $49,799 a year when living on-campus, $48,939 a year when living off campus and $39,948 a year when living with parents. 

The cost to be a full time student at Morris Brown College is $8,500. The school recently regained accreditation and has been back to its full functions this academic year.

The cost of attendance at Spelman College, one of the nation’s most prestigious academic institutions, is $44,551.00 per year when living on campus and $28,885.00 when living off campus.

Students from Clark Atlanta University shared their experiences living in Atlanta.  Ivyanna Franklin, a  junior, said, “Life as a college student in Atlanta is more expensive than the average college student…I can afford to live in Atlanta with the help of my mother as well as working a part time job because I am a full time student. Balancing a job and school work is never easy simply because you have some days you get off work and some assignments are due earlier than normal. Atlanta could be affordable for someone who is well established but not so much for college students. I pay $1149 a month for my apartment and parking.”

Graduate student Cedric Holt said, “Being a college student in Atlanta is fun. Atlanta is a big city with plenty of opportunities for internships…I am living off-campus and luckily my financial aid has covered housing for the year.”

Junior Myia Davis said, “Living off campus in Atlanta is expensive and frustrating. I’ve had to find a job to help fit the bill. While being a full time student and a full time employee I have to find time to study. Attending such an expensive school is already a lot for my parents due to the lack of

scholarships the school offers I have rent and utilities due monthly which is $1,300 dollars. The rent in Atlanta is getting higher and higher due to [the city’s] popularity.”

Khalil Manuel, a senior, said, “College life as a student in Atlanta can be tough financially if you don’t have the right financial plan. One thing that I had to do was work part-time to have money for food, gasoline and necessities for school. I register for classes and build my work schedule around my class schedule. It also helps that I stay at home with my mom so I save a good bit of money not having to pay rent. I have looked at different apartments in the area but many of the places are unaffordable, especially working only part time and being a student.”

Senior Ameera Smith said, “The balance between being a student and “adulting” is a very complicated one. The rent is high. I know students who are paying $1,600 in rent just for one bedroom. My rent is $1,450 and I live 20 minutes away. Balancing school and work is very hard as I have nine classes this semester. I get up at 4 a.m., five out of seven days a week I go to work and I leave work to go straight to class. It’s draining to say the least. It’s really important to make sure that you’re managing your time well and putting school before anything else.”

I do not live off-campus like these students, but my experience with the cost of living in Atlanta is similar. I am from the Bronx, New York and decided to come to CAU because of the mass media arts program. I was also presented with an opportunity to play baseball for the Panthers.  

My car, tuition, bills, food and groceries are the largest investments I have made since being in Atlanta. At first, it was only my father making these payments, but I have been able to help him with these payments since I started working. 

It is not easy being a college student no matter where you are, but when someone is a college student in a major city the affordability of life brings challenges. Has it been worth it? Well, moving to Atlanta for college has been worth it and I have everything I need here in order to succeed in my future career.

Old Fourth Ward is home to a number of small clubs, theaters and after-hours hangouts. Photo by Noah Washington/The Atlanta Voice


Want to have some fun? Well, it’s going to cost you. 

By Noah Washington

Millions of people flock to Atlanta every year for the fun that the city offers. Everything from nightlife to sports, Atlanta has it all. But since Atlanta has it all, does that mean the city can set the rates on your entertainment?

The answer is how badly do you want to have fun?

“The biggest difference in Atlanta is that a decade ago, there were more places and a different crowd, now it feels like Atlanta is about social status,” said Carlton Adams, also known as “Directed by Bank”. “Back in the day, it was more about having a good time, not showing off for Instagram. What’s currently cool about Atlanta nightlife is that you could be in the same room with a politician, CMO of Coca-Cola, and a street entrepreneur and have a great time,” he said. Adams, a D.J and director, now is a conductor of Atlanta nightlife and entertainment.

Atlanta’s nightlife has a lot to offer. The city is known for its outrageous club scene. You have Atlanta institutions ranging from Revel to hidden gems like Red Phone Booth, but a section in an Atlanta club like Revel will cost you about $600, which is not uncommon for clubs in major cities.

If you are looking to do something a little less high priced, Atlanta’s nightlife has other options. Why not go to the movies? On Saturday, an Atlanta Voice reporter went to a 10:40 PM screening of “Black Adam,” at the Starlight Theatre, which was packed with people who filled the driveway of the theater all the way to the street. After paying $20 for three tickets, we sat and enjoyed the movie with no unwelcome interruption. At the AMC theater at Atlantic Station, for example, there was a showing of the same film with tickets being $19.06 a person. So if you go on a date by the time you are done with popcorn and maybe a drink to share, you would have spent approximately $50. 

It is safe to say that the current Atlanta entertainment has changed since the Freaknik days of the 90s and early 2000’s, but there is still plenty to do.

Promises made, promises kept:

Andre Dickens met HUD Secretary Marcia Fudge to discuss federal support for affordable housing goals

By King Williams 

Last week Dickens met with the U.S. Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Secretary Marcia Fudge who was visiting Atlanta. Dickens, alongside U.S. Congresswoman Nikema Williams (D-GA), was at a public round table to talk about affordable housing in Atlanta. The round table was held at Atlanta First United Methodist Church downtown surrounded by a who’s who of Atlanta housing experts to discuss their views on affordable housing. 

The meeting also touted several new proposed developments that were also in hopes of receiving federal funds. Those sites included the long-gestating Atlanta Civic Center redevelopment project, the Stitch, a highway cap project that would create a land bridge connecting downtown over I-75 and I-85, and Atlanta First UMC’s proposed new development 360 Peachtree, a two-tower affordable housing development located on the 1.8 acres of surface parking lots directly across the street. 

Dickens has made affordable housing a goal of his administration including setting a goal of building 1,000 homes with faith-based partners within the next five years. These faith-based partners such as Atlanta UMC are holders of vital swaths of land in Atlanta, land that is located in some of the best-aligned areas of future development within the city. Renderings at the meeting also highlighted the new district of downtown Atlanta that could be achieved with the linkage of the aforementioned development projects. 

These 1,000 units of affordable housing with faith-based partners are a part of the Mayor’s more ambitious goal of creating or preserving 20,000 affordable housing units in Atlanta over the next five years as well. The Dickens administration has also cited several other sites of land downtown at 181 Forsyth Street, and 143 Alabama Street as potential destinations for his affordable housing goals. 

The Dickens administration was also given positive remarks by Sec. Fudge for their work in relocating the residents of the blighted Forest Cove apartments in southeast Atlanta. When asked about the future of the project as well as whether or not there would be any inquiries into the management of property owner Millennia, both Dickens and Fudge did not give a comment. 

Born and raised in Brooklyn, New York, Donnell began his career covering sports and news in Atlanta nearly two decades ago. Since then he has written for Atlanta Business Chronicle, The Southern Cross...