Lecrae — legendary Atlanta hip-hop artist, Grammy Award winner, and New York Times bestselling author — is continuing his investment in renewing and restoring Atlanta by joining the board of Grove Park Renewal (GPR). The appointment was official in May 2020. GPR is a non-profit working to provide affordable housing in the Grove Park neighborhood on Atlanta’s Westside.
“Grove Park Renewal is invested in the community at the deepest level. That’s where I want to serve,” said Lecrae. “I live in Atlanta and the light that shines the furthest shines the brightest at home."
Lecrae’s partnership with GPR expands his relationship with organizations serving the low-income residents of the Westside. He actively supports Peace Preparatory Academy in the English Avenue neighborhood, right down Donald Lee Hollowell Parkway from Grove Park. Peace Prep makes a quality, private education available to children without regard for a child’s ability to pay.
And during the current pandemic, Lecrae worked with Love Beyond Walls to distribute hand-washing stations and food to homeless people in Atlanta.
Grove Park Renewal works closely with Peace Prep to help provide affordable, stable housing for the families in the school. Without housing stability, the children’s ability to stay in the school and reap the benefits of its holistic model is threatened. This is how Lecrae met Justin Bleeker, director of GPR, and how Lecrae became interested in the work GPR was doing to keep the Westside affordable for its current residents.
“Having Lecrae on our board is such a blessing,” said Justin Bleeker, director of Grove Park Renewal. “He joins an exemplary board of directors made up of community leaders who represent the voices of our neighbors, especially those we serve. His demonstrable commitment to disenfranchised communities is a gift to Grove Park and our organization.”
When Grove Park Renewal began in 2015, as much as 30% of the housing in Grove Park was dilapidated and abandoned. Much of the occupied housing was owned by absentee landlords who had little investment in the community beyond the rental income they earned.
However, with the recent increase in civic investment in Atlanta’s Westside — most notably the Westside Park, expected to open in 2020 — Grove Park is quickly being gentrified. Many long-term renters are being displaced with little or no notice when their home is sold. And those who aren’t displaced are seeing rents increasing by 50-100% when their rental agreements renew.
GPR desires to enable current “legacy” renters to stay in the neighborhood they love and provide housing stability for themselves and their children. GPR currently provides beautiful, quality rental homes at a rate that is typically 20-30% lower than the market rate in the neighborhood. In addition, GPR also partners with local non-profit organizations to facilitate connections to holistic health, educational, and food services and resources.
“Lecrae will bring a strong, independent voice to the issue of affordable housing,” said Bleeker. “We look forward to his valuable input gained through years as an entrepreneur and socially conscious philanthropist.”