Blighted Discussion Questions:

  1. What was your experience reading Blighted? Were you surprised by what you read? Was there any character’s story that was emotionally upsetting for you to read?
  2. What character do you most resonate with? Do you personally know any people with similar stories to those in Blighted?
  3. Do you know of areas like the Cleveland Avenue neighborhood? What is your impression about low-income neighborhoods after reading Blighted?
  4. Approximately 35% of all apartments (over 4 units) were built between 1960-1979. Do you think we should work to save/renovate these properties or tear them down to build new apartments even if the cost is twice to build new?
  5. Ms. Humphries and her daughter and granddaughter all worked hard at their full-time jobs at minimal wages. What do you think of minimum wages after seeing the living conditions they could afford?
  6. What are your thoughts about community building after reading Blighted? Should foundations, public schools, housing authorities, municipalities, churches and businesses develop a ‘master plan’ for neighborhoods?
  7. Blighted addresses the interconnection between housing, education and healthcare. Can you share other examples on how housing impacts and individuals ability to thrive and be successful (either in the book or in your own personal life)?
  8. What did you think about the crime at Summerdale and fact it seemed to take so long to get the crime reduced? Do you think that Anthony Fowler was responsible for traumatizing the children and families living at Summerdale?
  9. Was Officer Ski doing a good job?
  10. What did you think about Sharon Allen as a phantom tenant? Should there be laws that penalize phantom tenants for operating a business from their unit that does not follow the property rules and regulations?
  11. Melinda Wyatt is a hardworking, mother of four children. Do you think she was a good mother? What about her upbringing would sway your opinion one way or another? How did you feel about her eviction? Do you think Marjy was fair to evict her?
  12. Without the housing and education intervention by Marjy Stagmeier, what do you think would be the outcome of the 68 children living at Summerdale?
  13. One of Marjy’s challenges when purchasing a blighted property is the affordable low-interest capital funding. Do you think that banks and foundations are doing enough to invest in blighted communities? For every % of interest Marjy had to pay her investors, she had to raise the rent by $____. What do you think about the impact of eager investors in low-income families living in apartments, who want a high yield on their investment?
  14. What did you think of Dr. Payne’s challenges educating children from a marginalized apartment community?
  15. What did you think about “Nut” the active shooter that operated near Cleveland Avenue Elementary?
  16. Does Kingston Humphries have a chance to live a better life than his mother Ashley and great grandmother Virginia?
  17. Have you ever lived in substandard housing? If the answer is yes, what was your experience, and how has it affected your life?
  18. Do you think the tenants should be more accountable for their behavior?
  19. Did you think it was difficult to read the chapters on the City of Atlanta permitting process? What about the federal compliance requirements like Americans with Disabilities Act, Fair Housing Act and Uniform Accessibility Code? Do you think there is a better solution to address the intersection of people with disabilities and the structural world?
  20. What did you think of the Star-C programs to offer wrap-around resident services? Should landlords be rewarded for providing these services (visit
  21. What did you think of Marjy’s comment on page _____ that we are raising the next generation of poverty through marginalized apartment communities?
  22. Where you surprised to see the impact of COVID-19 on Summerdale and the residents? Do you agree with the eviction moratorium prohibiting landlords from filing evictions through July 2021, despite the fact that many Summerdale tenants worked during COVID-19 but just refused to pay rent?
  23. What do you think it takes to build community ‘trust’ at Summerdale? Is this a good thing?
  24. After reading Blighted, what do you think causes a property to become ‘blighted’? Do you think it is the people, the structures or a combination of both?