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I'm more curious about the story of the homes behind the billboards. The photo was taken in Atlanta; I have seen it on a few sites but no exact street location. The homes look like they were once quite beautiful but had fallen on hard times. Were they occupied at the time? The billboards block steps up from the sidewalk to the homes. What lead someone to turn an entire block into a row of billboards like that? Today there would be zoning and permitting rules hat would keep this from happening. Did the homes survive?
The movie dates from 1936, when much of the US was still in the grips of the Depression. Though things might not have been as dire as they were in 1932-1933, there were still plenty of people who were badly off, and plenty of vacant, abandoned homes too. Perhaps the property owner, unable to sell or rent the homes and having insufficient money to fix them up, got some small income by having advertising on the property, but this is purely a guess on my part. I doubt zoning restrictions were such a big issue in hard times, either.
I did a little digging on the Library of Congress website, since the source link on the site I got the picture from was borked, and it isn't exactly helpful with your question. The photo was taken by Walker Evans in 1936, and the titles for the photo are listed as Houses. Atlanta, Georgia and Atlanta, Georgia. Frame houses and a billboard. Here is the photo information on loc.gov.
The collection "forms an extensive pictorial record of American life between 1935 and 1944. This U.S. government photography project was headed for most of its existence by Roy E. Stryker, who guided the effort in a succession of government agencies: the Resettlement Administration (1935-1937), the Farm Security Administration (1937-1942), and the Office of War Information (1942-1944). The collection also includes photographs acquired from other governmental and non-governmental sources, including the News Bureau at the Offices of Emergency Management (OEM), various branches of the military, and industrial corporations."