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Atlanta close to tearing down last housing project

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ATLANTA – The nation's bulldozer attack on crime and poverty will soon make Atlanta — home of the first public housing development — the first major city to eliminate all of its large housing projects. Cities from Boston to Los Angeles are following its lead. For more than 15 years, housing officials across the country have been razing the projects where some 1.2 million families live and replacing them with a mix of higher-rent and subsidized apartments and homes. Alexandria, La., has taken down at least 247 units. Buffalo, N.Y., has demolished about 1,000 aging homes. Atlanta expects to finish tearing down the last of its sprawling projects next June. Advocates for the poor worry that not enough subsidized homes remain, and thousands of families are being dumped on the street. Less than half of the 92,000 units demolished by cities have been replaced with traditional public housing. Most of the displaced residents have received vouchers to put them in privately owned housing. The Department of Housing and Urban Development acknowledges, however, that it doesn't know what happened to thousands of families. Some longtime residents feel like afterthoughts in an ambitious overhaul that is supposed to help them. "I don't think it's fair," said Jeff Walker, who was forced out May 30 from Atlanta's Bankhead Courts project. Even though drug violence there was once so brazen that mail carriers had police escorts, he said: "We didn't ask to be moved."

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