Sarah Burns, director of "East Lake Meadows: A Public Housing Story," and Aseelah Muhammad, a former resident of East Lake Meadows, joined Boston Public Radio on Tuesday to speak about the new documentary. The film spoke of the history of a former public housing community in Atlanta and raises the question of who deserves public assistance.
"East Lake Meadows opened in 1970 and at that time it was built really to warehouse the poorest among us on the very far edge of the city, so there were problems from the very beginning," Burns said. "But to a certain extent there was hope for people who were moving in, because this was the place that was keeping them from being homeless or spending 70% of their income on housing."
Muhammad said her hopes for moving to East Lake Meadows were to provide a sense of stability for her family.
"It was to actually give them a home, a roof over their head, some place we could be stable and not have to keep moving around all the time," she said.
Yet the shoddily built houses soon gave way to many problems that were largely unresolved by the government, Burns added.
"There were problems really early on with the infrastructure," she said. "It was built shoddily, you see a lack of services, and a lack in terms of policing, so you see crimes start to happen more there because it’s isolated and apart from the city."
The documentary follows the evolution of East Lake Meadows from the 1970s to the present, while raising questions about racial injustice and how we treat our neighbors most in need. "East Lake Meadows: A Public Housing Story" airs on March 24 on PBS.