Atlanta Housing has renamed the Atlanta Housing Atlanta Community Scholars Award (ACSA) the James Allen, Jr. Community Scholars Award (JACSA) in memory of long-time Atlanta Housing Board Commissioner James Allen, Jr., who died suddenly on June 23, 2020.
Since 2003, ACSA has awarded more than $692,000 in scholarships to nearly 200 deserving students. Commissioner Allen, a luminary not just at Atlanta Housing (AH) but also in the Atlanta community, was one of the scholarship’s most vocal advocates. “[Commissioner Allen] loved serving the people. He was a man of the people,” says AH External and Community Affairs Administrator Morgan Johnson, who worked closely with Commissioner Allen and often referred to him as “pops.” “He cared about his seniors and the youth. Pops was always trying to find ways to get more funding for ACSA scholarship.”
When Commissioner Allen relocated from Elberton, Ga. to Atlanta, he had no idea he would become such an integral part of the AH family for decades to come. Also a celebrated veteran, Commissioner Allen dedicated 29 years to AH as a beloved employee and community servant from 1964 to 1993. Even after retiring, his journey with AH continued. He began serving on the board of commissioners in 2010 and went on to become a 30-year resident of Hightower Manor High-Rise, where he served as vice president of the resident council.
A true ambassador for Atlanta Housing, Commissioner Allen was a keeper and protector of AH’s values and mission. In the spirit of AH’s vision, he embodied what it means to Live, Work and Thrive, as he is believed to be the only person in AH history to have worked for our agency, lived in one of our properties and served on our board. Commissioner Allen leaves behind a rich legacy of passion for and dedication to our youth through his advocacy of educational empowerment. His indelible mark will also be left on Hightower Manor High-Rise, which too will bear name, serving as a fond reminder of the special place he called home.
“[Commissioner Allen] believed financial, intellectual and cultural improvement could be achieved by getting a good education,” says Elon Osby, who helps to manage the scholarship as the administrative assistant in AH’s Governmental and External Affairs Department. “[He believed] education and the level of education that one achieves changes everything.”
In the passing of Commissioner James Allen, Atlanta Housing lost far more than a board member. Atlanta Housing lost a voice for the voiceless, a champion of the AH mission, and joyful human being who was known as family. “There will never be another like Commissioner Allen, that’s for sure,” says Atlanta Housing CEO Eugene Jones. “He was a fighter for the underserved, especially our seniors and youth. I feel grateful knowing every time one of our students receives the James Allen Community Scholarship that we are also honoring him. I think we did him proud.”