Box 12, Folder 27, Document 14

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Two Congressine!

ATLANTA Ws virtually certain to receive a

substantial sum to improve a huge sec-
tion of the city under the demonstration cities
act, but it is not at all of having the
help of its two Republican congressmen.

Congress passed the bill last year. It is
Intend to strike at the roots of many of our
problems in the slums and in areas that are
not vet slums bui soon may be. Selected
cities across the nation will be the first to
receive funds, under a “demonstration” con-
cept; of course, if the plan works well, other
cities presumably might follow suit.

Atlanta is privileged in that it almost cer-
tainly would be in the first list of cities, and
accordingly it already has made plans im a
3,000-acre ‘area of southeast Atlanta. (That is
an area five times as large aS our biggest
present urban renewal area.)

Slum buildings would be cleared. Others
would be renovated. New structures would
be built. And most important, the plan goes
beyond traditional urban renewal in that it
ties together almost all the governmental
efforts that directly affect a slum area.

Housing improvement alone is not the
answer. Good hovcinc ind disgraceful schools,
for example, are mot a combination likely to
break the cycle far slum people. Under the
demonstration cities plan, bad schools in the
designated area of t sty would be improved.
Employment tr + end placement would
be furthered. In t, the program addresses
itself to the > yonce of the slums’ worst

problems—th ‘hat, eventually, affect the

whole city.
Congress, having ssed the bill, now
fund it. € + assume that any

‘Janta area, at least,
erd for any plan that
these problems so pressing


for Atlanta.

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But things jhave changed for AUlanta in
Washington. ‘Two Democratic congressmen
who helped put the demonstration cities bill
through Congress have been replaced by two
Republican congressmen whose posilions are
somewhat uncertain at this point.

Rep. Fletcher Thompson of the 5th Dis-
trict, who had our support against a so-so
Democratic nominee, now says there is “a
strong probability” he will support legislation
to finance the program this year.

That is good news. Mr. Thompson cannot
serve his constituency if he is against such
legislation; he cannot serve it if he is only
tolerant or permissive about such legislation;
he can serve it only if he becomes a strong
advocate of solutions for city problems—and
not an advocate in generalities only.

Rep. Ben Blackburn of the 4th District,
on the other hand, speaks negatively of the
bill already approved and of the bill now to
finance it. He expresses his negativism in
terms of the plan’s being ‘‘a great theory,”
“not a pure bouquet of roses without any
thorns,” and so on. But the general weight
of what he has said so far is negative.

Race enters in, of course, in some of the
judgments being made. This plan, like other
federal programs, must be administered with-
out racial bias. In Congress, racism already
has been obvious in some of the efforts made
against the plan. We wonder sometimes
whether that is not always the main consid-
eration with many who oppose such legisla-

That makes no sense.

“This means a lot to Atlanta,” Rep.
Thompson said,

That is about if.

Last year Congress approved in principle
the President's ‘demonstration cities” plan.
It is noble in purpase and wide in scope, but
so far it has only « pinch-peany budget.

Even if and when Congress appropriates
the multidillion-doilar fund President John-
son secks, cities will not share equally. Some
won't get anything at all.

A city’s chances will depend not so much
on size as on its ability to convince federal of-
ficials it has the know-how and the willingness
to carry out the purposes of the act.

Those purposes’ are admirable. The dem-
onstration cities idea goes far beyond any
old urban renewal plan, Like urban renewal,
it would be concerned with physical rehabili-

_ tation of an area. But unlike urban renewal,

it would concentrate on social rehabilitation of
the people who live in the slums.

The program thus would require close co-
ordination of health, education, welfare, recre-
ation and other social services. It would re-
quire a coherent plan and competent admin-


This week Atlanta submitted its ambitious
proposal for a 3,000-acre demonstration area
south of I-20 and east of West Whitchall. In
it are 19 per cent of the city’s “poverty house-
holds,” 36 per cent of its slum housing, 20 per
cent of its illiterates, 25 per cent of its juve-
nile delinquency and a high mortality rate.
Sixty per cent of its residents are Negro and
40 per cent white.

Competition for demonstration city funds |
will be fierce, Jusi last Wednesday, some 500

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city officials from cight Southeastern states

attended a conference here to learn more
aboul the program,

But we believe Atlanta's chances will be
good. It has demonstrated that it understands
the concept and that its officials have the
technical knowledge to coordinate and admin-
ister the program wisely. i

Approval of the project would be a major
asset to the city. The area is larger than all
the urban renewal projects put together. In
it are concentrated many of the city’s hard-
core problems. And the federal government
could pay as much as $0 per cent of the cost.

We'll keep our fingers crossed and hope .
that Congress comes through with adequate

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Congressman Fletcher Thom

than in cleaving to a fixed set of political

He has indicated that he may support the
model cities bill, and we like his explanation.

As a Republican, Rep. Thompson said he
Was displeased by certain parts of the legis-
lation. “But until such time as I have a mean-
ingful alternative, I must take a realistic ap-
proach . . . Vil be darned if P’m going to
throw something out the door just because
I didn’t propose it.”

The freshmai congressinan remarked that
the bill “means a Jot to Atlanta.” It does
indeed. If model-city funds were approved for
the city according to plans already submitted
by local officials, Atlanta could begin the

Pe pson of Atlan-
a 15 snowhig signs that he is more interested
in ‘addressing the needs of his constiluents

to Atlanta’
CF eet oo

most comprehensive {
Mmprovement prozrz
ever aifempted. ae

The proposed model area consi 0
; Sts of 3,000
acres in southeast Atlanta. By contrast the
city’s largest urban renewal area West End
comprises only 675 acres. . “

: And not only would slum dwellings be
cieared, other buildings renovated and new
‘housing built, but a complete range of social
Services would be provided the residents in
ithe area: education and vocational training,

health care, counseling. The model cities p
gram is people-oriented, ea?

Rep. Thompson is wise not to reject the
plan Just because it is not perfect in ae
detail, We hope his perspective will be stead
by Rep. Ben Blackburn, his freshman Resub-
lican colleague in the neighboring Fourth Dix
irict. Mr. Blackburn, alas, talks like a man
who can’t see the roses for the thorns. But he
may take a second look.

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