Author ORCID Identifier

Date of Award


Degree Type

Closed Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor

Deirdre Oakley

Second Advisor

Erin Ruel

Third Advisor

Elisabeth O. Burgess

Fourth Advisor

Eric Wright


Atlanta was the first major city to offer federally-funded public housing and it is one of the first to demolish it. Unlike other cities undergoing public housing transformation the Atlanta Housing Authority (AHA) targeted senior housing as part of the demolition process. The current research draws from the Urban Health Initiative (UHI) study, where Investigators at Georgia State University collected three waves of data (baseline, 6-month post-relocation, and 24-month post-relocation) from relocated seniors and families, as well as a comparison group of seniors who could age-in-place. This research uses place attachment and aging-in-place theories to explain outcomes of relocated and nonrelocated seniors. Descriptive analyses are used to highlight demographic characteristics of public housing residents. T-tests and one-way analysis of variance (ANOVA) are applied to compare social aspects (social cohesion, place attachment, collective efficacy, neighborhood satisfaction, mental and physical health, and the built environment) of relocated older adults and nonrelocated older adults. Geocoding method provides within-group analysis of relocated residents, determining if geographic proximity to former public housing communities effects neighborhood and health outcomes. Finally, multivariate regression analyses (bivariate regression and ordinal least squares) highlights relationships between neighborhood and health outcomes, and relocation. Results show that among older adults, relocated older adults have worse neighborhood outcomes, specifically, informal social control and neighborhood satisfaction, but better built environment conditions than those who aged-in-place. Among all relocators, the change in mental health and physical functioning significantly improved for the young and worsened for older adults. Relocation is associated with reduced social cohesion and worse built environment conditions for the oldest-old, compared to the young. These associations are moderated by distance moved, such that, among older adults only, those who relocated farther away have worse neighborhood outcomes. Finally, results show that distance moved is a moderator for informal social control in the oldest-old. Policymakers may want to consider allocating funding for senior public housing residents to efforts that allow older adults to age-in-place. This includes renovating dilapidated housing structures, instead of demolishing them and forcing relocation.


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