By Meredith E. Torre
Since the 1930s, the Atlanta Housing Authority (AHA) has been one of the leading public housing authorities in the nation, providing affordable housing for many low-income families in the city of Atlanta. Today, AHA is the largest public housing authority in Georgia and one of the largest in the nation, serving more than 50,000 people to provide quality affordable housing in amenity-rich, mixed-income communities for the betterment of the community.
The Atlanta City Council created the Atlanta Housing Authority (AHA) on May 18, 1938, and AHA’s first meeting of its Board of Commissioners, which consisted of five members, was held June 11, 1938. Charles F. Palmer, an Atlanta real estate developer, was appointed the first chairman of the board. Prior to the creation of AHA, Palmer and Dr. John Hope, an influential African-American educator and pivotal leader in the Civil Rights movement, worked closely together to find a solution to end slum housing in Atlanta. In October 1933, their efforts to convince the Roosevelt Administration were successful, culminating in the federal government approval of funding for the construction of the first two public housing developments in the United States: Techwood Homes, adjacent to Georgia Tech, and University Homes, adjacent to the Atlanta University Center.
The AHA Archives was created with the mission to preserve and provide permanent and historical materials that will assist in the operations of AHA; to promote AHA’s knowledge and understanding of the origins, functions, programs and goals of AHA; and to collect archival materials that tell the story of AHA.
A variety of records, artifacts, moving images and more than 14,000 photographs dating from the early 1930s document AHA’s unique history. AHA’s collections’ strengths include records concerning the history of public housing, especially rich collections documenting our work with communities and AHA’s involvement with important public figures who helped shape the story of public housing in Atlanta, such as President Roosevelt, President Jimmy Carter, and Martin Luther King, Jr.
Although the AHA Archives exist primarily with the mission of assisting the internal operations of its parent organization, the archives does occasionally receive and accommodate requests from the public. The archives also works cooperatively with other departments to assist the agency in public outreach initiatives and to help to tell AHA’s story.