By Katrice L. Mines
When Cheneé Joseph took over the helm of the Historic District Development Corporation, Atlanta’s oldest surviving community development corporation that has spearheaded nearly four decades of pioneering urban revitalization work in Atlanta’s Sweet Auburn neighborhood, the organization came full circle with one of its own. Joseph, who moved to Atlanta at the age of 7 from St. Croix in the U.S. Virgin Islands, had interned with the organization nearly 20 years earlier. A community development professional with several years of project management, community and real estate development experience, she has managed budgets and schedules for various capital improvements and demolition projects totaling $17 million in the Atlanta Housing Authority portfolio and held the senior manager of Neighborhood Revitalization position where she was instrumental in planning and implementing neighborhood stabilization and development projects and programs to meet the goals and strategies outlined in the HUD Choice Neighborhoods Transformation Plan for Ashview Heights, Vine City and the Atlanta University Center. Joseph, having found her calling in the work of smart growth, is the chair of the Beltline Affordable Housing Advisory Board which provides guidance to Invest Atlanta and the City of Atlanta on the goals and policies related to the use of the BeltLine Affordable Housing Trust Fund and monitors the location and availability of affordable housing throughout the BeltLine. The one thing she wishes everyone knew about the organization and its community contributions? “[HDDC] essentially started the trend of equitable development in the city. HDDC’s block by block strategy is now used all over the country,” she explains. “The majority of the affordable housing units in fourth ward were either developed or owned by this organization. The majority of our units have no subsidy which means that we preserve the affordable with the assistance of tax credits, vouchers, etc.” Just call Joseph a placemaker.
Roots // I started as a community engagement intern with the organization in 1997. That experience exposed me to community development in a very unique way. HDDC was in its prime and the organization’s influence in the city was huge. I was able to learn from very knowledgeable and successful women who were passionate about their neighborhood and were dedicated to the revitalization and preservation of the neighborhood and its culture. When the executive director role became available, I knew this was my opportunity to carry on the legacy of those before me in ensuring that Atlanta and Sweet Auburn specifically remains.
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