The Urban Institute (UI) recently published the first long-term impact assessment of Atlanta’s East Lake Initiative, a comprehensive community initiative that has directly invested or leveraged more than $600 million into the East Lake community since 1995 and is one of the nation’s first efforts to convert public housing into mixed-income community.
To investigate causal effects of a single-area revitalization initiative, researcher Brett Theodos uses a ‘synthetic control’ method to compare a treated area with comparison communities and data from the decennial censuses in 1970, 1980, 1990, and 2000 and the American Community Survey from 2006 through 2019. Theodos found that the initiative has led to sizable local changes, including decreases in poverty and increases in income, college degree holding, and home values. These effects may be driven by changes of people rather than changes for people, as the study also finds that the share of the population that was Black decreased and the share that was white increased. Population levels, housing tenure, and gross rents were unchanged.