Cassandra Johnson Gaither

Cassandra Johnson Gaither

Research Social Scientist - USDA Forest Service

Atlanta’s South River Forest: A Consideration of Affordable Housing

April 07, 2022 - 11:30 AM

This exploratory research begins to unpack the association between involuntary neighborhood transiency (i.e., forced household moves) and civic environmental stewardship, focusing on four neighborhoods adjacent to 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 about 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. Our analysis examines neighborhood transiency as an a priori social condition that necessarily influences people’s engagement with urban greenspaces, in this case forest patches.

Speaker Biography

Dr. Cassandra Johnson Gaither is a Research Social Scientist with the Southern Research Station, USDA Forest Service, in Athens, GA (  Her research interests address human perceptions and interactions with nature and the environment.  She has published research addressing social group visitation to wild land recreation areas, environmental justice as this relates to minority and lower wealth group access to outdoor recreation facilities, and more recently, the intersection of socially vulnerable populations and environmental risk.  Her work currently focuses on the intersection of property ownership and social vulnerability in the South and the implications of the same for national forest management.

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