Making Atlanta Affordable: Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms shares city’s first ever affordable housing action plan
By Miana M. Massey
In a press conference and groundbreaking ceremony in the Adamsville community of southwest Atlanta on Monday, Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms released the City of Atlanta’s Housing Affordability Action Plan – the first ever such document to address the City’s supply of housing in the City of Atlanta for a full spectrum of its residents.
Flanked by a number of City housing officials—including Jon Keen, the deputy chief operating officer for the City of Atlanta; Terri Lee, chief housing officer for the City of Atlanta; and Denise Cleveland-Leggett, the state regional administrator for the US Department of Housing and Urban Development—the mayor was also joined by affordable housing developers Atlanta Neighborhood Development Partnership (ANDP) and Laurel Street Residential to break ground on Creekside at Adamsville Place, a new rental community.
The $27.6-million, 147-unit development will offer rental rates affordable to families with incomes at 30 percent, 60 percent, and 80 percent of area median income, the mayor shared.
“Affordability is the foundation of any livable and thriving community,” Bottoms said, recalling that she grew up in nearby Collier Heights. “Creating and preserving affordable housing is critical to the future of all those who call Atlanta home.
“For too many residents, their zip code determines their opportunities,” she continued. “This action plan is a vision for a more equitable city where each Atlantan has access to quality, safe and affordable housing. As our city continues to grow, we want to ensure neighborhoods in the north, south, east, and Westside remain welcoming and inclusive places for all.”
According to the Mayor, the plan will implement 13 initiatives and 45 actions to achieve four key goals, which include:
- create or preserve 20,000 affordable homes by 2026 and increase overall supply;
- invest $1 billion from public, private, and philanthropic sources to produce and preserve affordable housing;
- Ensure equitable growth for all Atlantans and minimize displacement; and,
- Support innovation and streamline processes.
The plan itself is about more than just housing, a promotional piece about the plan explained.
According to the plan, Atlanta’s population has grown by 17 percent to more than 486,000 people since 2000. In 2017, Atlanta was the third fastest- growing metropolitan region in the U.S.As our population grows, many of our long-term residents are experiencing challenges.
While Atlanta’s economy has grown, not all Atlantans have equally benefited. For too many residents, wages have not kept up with rising rents, the plan explained.
Between 2000 and 2017, Atlanta’s median income increased by 48 percent, keeping pace with the 46 percent increase in Atlanta’s median home value. But the median rent increased by over 70 percent during this time.
While more than 15 percent of Atlanta’s households have an annual income of $150,000 or more in 2017, more than 27 percent of households earn less than $25,000 annually.
“(Implementing the action plan) means providing housing opportunities for young adults and young families who are our future as well as existing residents who have fueled our growth,” Bottoms said in prepared remarks. “And it means enabling our seniors and legacy residents to stay in the city that they helped to build.”
The 45-action Affordable Housing action plan aims to substantially increase the number of Atlanta residents who can afford their housing costs, according to Lee.
The Plan represents a collaborative and shared effort from multiple City agencies and a diverse group of nonprofits, philanthropic organizations, faith-based organizations, educational institutions, private companies, residents, and community members who came together under the banner of House ATL to develop recommendations that are critical to the future of housing in Atlanta.
“If we talk about affordable housing and workforce housing it’s also about allowing people to live in housing in dignity; it’s not enough that (citizens) just afford to live in the city we need to make sure that they are living with dignity in the city,” Bottoms said. “Part of what we are making sure is that we are talking about affordable medium income that it is across the board, because you have workforce and affordable housing.”
“You want to make sure that if it’s someone making minimum-wage that they can afford to live in the city in the same way that someone may be making 40,000 a year can afford to live in the city,” she added.
The plan includes the metrics for which its success will be judged by as well identifies the eight agencies responsible for the implementation of each action item and initiative connected to the action plan, which includes Atlanta Housing, Atlanta BeltLine Inc., Department of City Planning, Department of Finance, Invest Atlanta, Atlanta Land Bank Authority, Mayor’s Office and One Atlanta.