Exploring transiency in four urban forest patch neighborhoods: Atlanta, Georgia, USA
This exploratory study begins to unpack the association between involuntary neighborhood transiency (i.e., forced household moves) and civic environmental stewardship, focusing on four neighborhoods adjacent to urban forest patches in the City of Atlanta, Georgia, USA. The patches emerged on the sites of former public housing communities after the city razed housing projects in the first decade of the 2000s. Given intense competition for city land, e.g., affordable housing needs versus greenspace preservation, we might expect neighborhood-level inquiry regarding plans for these properties; however, there is no indication of popular interest in the sites. We suggest that such engagement is inhibited, in part, by involuntary neighborhood transiency as the neighborhoods surrounding the patches are inhabited mostly by low-income African American renters, a highly transient population. This is the first phase of a study that will eventually examine the association between transiency and greenspace civic engagement. In this exploratory step, we examine involuntary neighborhood transiency as an a priori social condition that necessarily influences people’s engagement with urban greenspaces. Building on input from community members, research by Stephanie DeLuca and colleagues, and Matthew Desmond’s work on evictions in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, we operationalize transiency in terms of Housing Choice Voucher units and eviction rate to assess the extent to which these indicators localize in the four urban patch neighborhoods. A geospatial cluster analysis indicated that both measures concentrate in the neighborhoods adjacent to the forest patches, and they are positively associated. Given these associations, we recommend further research examining how various forms of involuntary moving may ultimately inhibit civic environmental stewardship.