Emmaus House was founded in 1967 by Father Austin Ford for the Episcopal Diocese of Atlanta, and the house has been a consistent presence in the Peoplestown neighborhood for over four decades. Opened in the wake of groundbreaking civil rights legislation and amidst local struggles with school desegregation, low-income housing shortages, and growing poverty, Emmaus House’s early years were focused on capacity-building among poor and marginalized residents. The house hosted Atlanta’s first welfare rights organization and supported local movements that demanded safe and affordable housing, responsive government, and equal treatment for people of color and the poor. Many of today’s local leaders grew up in Emmaus House’s after-school programs and summer camps where they joined family and community members in advancing democratic principles and practices and building grassroots organizations.
Emmaus House continues this work today by providing social support services, arts and educational programs, and opportunities in urban ministry and service. A historically important institution in the civil rights battles of the post-King years, Emmaus House is also a powerful symbolic marker of local justice movements and a vital center for the continuing promotion of human development, community, and spiritual life in central Atlanta.