Community members working to combat Atlanta’s income inequality gap

Published: Mar. 20, 2023 at 6:21 PM EDT
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ATLANTA, Ga. (Atlanta News First) - Atlanta is the worst in the nation when it comes to income inequality. It’s a problem the city’s been dealing with for years and some community members are fed up.

“Four out of five black children in our city live in neighborhoods of concentrated poverty,” said Dr. Janelle Williams, CEO of ‘Atlanta Wealth Building Initiative.’

Dr. Williams says systemic racism is to blame.

“Having a race neutral response is being tone deaf, it’s being irrelevant, and it’s disregarding what’s the root cause that we’re seeing here which is systemic racism reflected in policy practices, development practices, and private sector practices as well,” she said.

According to a new ‘State of Black Georgia’ report from the Urban League of Greater Atlanta, the median household income for a black family is 28,105.

For a white family, it’s 83,722.

“We have, for the last three years been the top Goodwill to place African Americans into living wage jobs,” said Elaine Armstrong, vice president of marketing at the North Georgia Goodwill.

The North Georgia Goodwill says it put 16,000 people to work last year and sees the barriers people face daily when it comes to getting a job, whether that’s a lack of transportation or affordable childcare.

“We also serve veterans, we also serve youth, we also serve people with disabilities,” said Armstrong.

Aside from already providing free career services and training, Goodwill wants more partnerships that invest in the community but don’t care what that community looks like.

“What we know and what we can focus on here is workforce development and we know that is a number one key indicator in helping turn the tide,” she said.

The Atlanta Wealth Building Initiative, however, says it’s all about building black wealth through intentional policy changes, investment strategies, and partnerships.

“We’re here to say how can we undo harm and let’s understand by maintaining systemic racism, we’re constraining our economy,” Dr. Williams said.