On May 17, 2014 over 1,000 people gathered for the 10th Annual Hollywood Court Day barbecue in Atlanta’s Maddox park. For the past 10 years former residents of one of the city’s now-extinct public housing projects have come together to celebrate their shared history and keep memories of their community alive.
The Atlanta Housing Authority demolished Hollywood Courts in 2009 and its remaining residents were dispersed – some settled into the private rental market with the help of Housing Choice (formerly Section 8) vouchers, others left the subsidized housing system altogether, still others became homeless or left Atlanta for good. Some who came to Hollywood Court Day this year traveled many miles to reunite with old friends for the first time, others are regulars at the picnic every year.
Reunion picnics like this one are common all over the country. They are a testament to the strong social bods residents built in public housing, and fly in the face of myths conveniently created to vilify “the projects” by those who never lived there. Such events are an opportunity for former residents to retain some control over the history of their lost homes, to keep telling their stories themselves.
RIP Hollywood Courts, 1968-2009.