A new documentary explores the daily lives of those who lived in East Lake Meadows

Learn the history of East Lake Meadows, a former public housing community in Atlanta. Stories from residents reveal hardship and resilience, and raise critical questions about race, poverty and who is deserving of public assistance. “East Lake Meadows: A Public Housing Story” is a new documentary by Sarah Burns and David McMahon, airing on Tuesday, Mar. 24 at 7 p.m.

WATCH: “East Lake Meadows”

“East Lake Meadows” tells the stories of more than a dozen families who lived in the community between the 1970s and its demolition in the mid-1990s, including the Lightfoot family and four generations of the family of Eva Davis, the long-time tenant leader at East Lake Meadows.

Initially praised for the spacious units and new construction, East Lake Meadows quickly became known as “little Vietnam,” a moniker that was intended to capture the rampant crime and violence that overwhelmed the community.

The film documents the tremendous hardships faced by East Lake families; the lack of access to grocery stores and fresh produce; the impact of devastating unemployment and poverty; conditions that included mold, leaky pipes, and collapsing walls and ceilings; and the seemingly ubiquitous presence of crime, drugs and guns. It also follows the births of children, celebration of holidays, daily activities in schools and the ways in which residents were “making a way out of no way.”

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