There are many factors that determine the level of environmental quality in urban areas including housing patterns, patterns of racial and economic discrimination, redlining, geographic distribution of wealth, location of industry, differential and disparate enforcement of land use and environmental regulations, and the distribution of transportation enhancements and investments (benefits and burdens). Institutionalized discrimination plays a major role in housing patterns and transportation decisions in Atlanta. Metro Atlanta faces severe environmental problems which are manifested in health disparities in black communities in particular, but communities of color in general. These problems are rooted in a history of racist urban development and made worse by the fossil fuel industry, utility companies, the lack of adequate regional public transit, and inadequate disposal of toxic wastes. Equitable access to a clean environment, efficient and fair transportation network, healthy neighborhoods and homes, and fair and meaningful public participation processes are basic basic human rights.
OHRD works to protect and improve the environment and transportation options in local communities by challenging the institutional barriers and impediments often faced by communities of color, not only throughout the South, but in all of the United States. Additionally, to accomplish our collective goal of a unified and equitable regional public mass transit system, we will continue to organize transit riders and collaborate with transit workers, and we will use available administrative tools at national and international levels.