Class Divide, an HBO film.
Class Divide, an HBO film. (HBO)

The Atlanta Volunteer Lawyers Foundation is tackling a timely topic in Atlanta—rapid gentrification and the effects on housing costs and neighborhoods—for its fourth annual AVLF at the Movies event on Sept. 19.

AVLF will screen “Class Divide,” a documentary looking at the effects of hypergentrification in New York’s West Chelsea neighborhood fueled by the opening of the High Line, a wildly popular public park on the site of an old railroad track. The High Line transformed “a once-gritty area into the hottest neighborhood in NYC’s high-end real-estate market,” according to HBO publicity materials, causing rents for Chelsea apartments to spike.

Atlanta Beltline founder and affordable housing advocate Ryan Gravel and Atlanta Public Schools superintendent Dr. Meria Carstarphen will lead a discussion after the screening on the related issues of affordable housing, education and gentrification in Atlanta.

Gravel’s 1999 master’s thesis at Georgia Tech provided the original vision for the Beltline, a 22-mile greenway built on a former railway corridor around Atlanta. Areas adjacent to completed areas of the popular footpath and bikeway have become desirable properties with corresponding increases in housing prices.

Carstarphen became APS superintendent in 2014 with a mandate to turn around the beleaguered school system in the wake of the standardized-tests cheating scandal that caused many teachers and administrators to lose their jobs.

“Class Divide” focuses on an intersection where an exclusive, $40,000 a year private school, Avenues: The World School, opened in 2012 across the street from the Elliott-Chelsea public housing projects. Longtime residents and students at the private school address the widening gap between the “haves” and “have-nots.”

AVLF is screening “Class Divide” at Landmark Midtown Art Cinema at 931 Monroe Drive N.E., on Sept. 19 from 6:30 to 9:30 p.m., which includes the postscreening discussion with Gravel and Carstarphen. Tickets cost $10 and may be purchased from the group’s website at