Sunday, April 3, 2011

City for Rent

Posted by Deirdre Oakley, ATLANTA, GA – Recently released data from the U.S. Census Bureau has left city officials in Atlanta very puzzled. As Thomas Wheatley reported in Creative Loafing  last month the Census Bureau’s 2009 population projection turned out to be off by about 80,000 people. According to the US2010 Project, data released by the Census in mid-March put the city’s population at 420,003 up from 416,474 in 2000 -- a mere 3,529 more residents. This is a far cry from the 500,000 estimate released in 2009. So what happened? Some are blaming inflated Census Bureau estimates while others point to the pervasive mortgage fraud that subsequently led to one of the worst foreclosure crises in Atlanta's history. A city tour seems to point to the latter. Gentrifying, poor, and working class neighborhoods alike appear to be increasingly vacant. Empty luxury lofts litter the more high-end neighborhoods, while boarded up and deteriorating single family homes are plentiful in the poor and working class communities. Then there are all the closed, graffiti-tagged businesses. To be sure,  “For Rent”, “For Sale”, "Available", and “Foreclosed” signs are obnoxiously abundant all around the city. What ever the cause, it's likely to be examined by state demographers, city officials, and academics for quite some time. But one thing is certain: deregulation of the mortgage industry played a major role, and while we can not definitively say “Capitalism Did This”, it’s clear that something went very wrong which should make free market, anti-regulation enthusiasts take pause. Why? Well for one thing we now have a city for rent. The first month is free. We need the tenants.

Deirdre Oakley is an Associate professor of Sociology at Georgia State University and the Editor of Social Shutter. You can contact her at To view more photographs from "City for Rent" log on to our Facebook page.


  1. An interesting and related item: The 2005-2009 American Community Survey estimates put the City of Atlanta population at 515,000 -- 15,000 more than the 2009 Census estimates.