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Letter: Public housing is not just projects but a warm home to many residents
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Recently, there have been several articles in The Times regarding public housing. It is to my dismay that Atlanta Street or Green Hunter Homes will be demolished and even renamed, dismissing the contribution of the person the complex was named after. What is more confusing is the reasoning for its demise, given Melrose was built first and thus is the oldest of the HUD housing.

May I submit that Atlanta Street Apartments/Green Hunter Homes are situated on land that is more economically valuable, given Gainesville’s rapid high-growth areas?

My purpose is to share that given whatever environment, we choose not only where we may go in life but how we look at life. I remember in a high school class enthusiastically debating with a teacher who referred to my home as “the projects.” I shared the correct name was Atlanta Street Apartments or Green Hunter Homes, never a “project.”

My childhood and adulthood on 240 Atlanta St. is full of long summer days filled with music from “game time” of playing hide-and-seek and red light. A field of grass was developed into a football and baseball field. At Christmases, the “skating ring” was full of skates, with skate keys hung on strings around our necks, new bicycles and a basketball court where I hung a net that entertained hundreds of basketball games. I remember walking back and forth to church, and nights where you could hear “Barefoot” singing as though he was a member of The Temptations. I remember coming home from college breaks and being questioned by neighbors as to why I was at home instead of college.

Atlanta Street Apartments was the stage for a riot that started at a football game and ended with the Klan realizing they had not stepped into a “project” but a community filled with pride, purpose and a strong sense of self. We were not “project-minded” folks. Atlanta Street Apartments is also where my 10-year-old brother died from an accidental shooting. I remember the night. Despite the pain, I also remember how the community gathered around our family, both young and old, and how even to this day, my brother’s classmates talk about him and the good times they shared on Atlanta Street.

Atlanta Street produced families with outstanding relationships and generations of college graduates during times when it was deemed unlikely, according to statistics, for the majority of residents to receive a high school diploma. My four sisters and I, along with my brother and countless others who lived and grew up on 240 Atlanta St., proved that statistic to be untrue.

Atlanta Street/Green Hunter Homes’ future is all but written, but let it not pass without understanding that whatever tragedy or happiness is produced starts with how one perceives their environment. Atlanta Street was home to a bunch of us and remains home in our hearts. Living on 240 Atlanta St. was a rich, valued environment that taught me early how to deal with the varieties of life.

Gwendolyn Johnson
Gainesville

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