The Power of “We” (Part 2)

The Atlanta BeltLine Partnership is elevating solutions to Atlanta’s affordable housing needs via a series of articles from our public, private, philanthropic, non-profit, and community partners who – through “The Power of We” – can help define a coordinated set of policies, programs and resources that build and preserve affordable living opportunities for all.  This month, Atlanta BeltLine, Inc., the City of Atlanta’s Office of Housing & Community Development, Invest Atlanta, and the Atlanta Housing Authority share examples of impactful investments of public capital generating affordable workforce housing.

Atlanta, like many cities, has multiple public and quasi-governmental agencies working to address affordable housing.  At the March 30th Atlanta BeltLine Quarterly Briefing, many of us came together to share with the public the recent investments being made to create affordable living for all income levels.  In coming together, we were able to highlight the opportunities for the public sector to work together in ways that have historically eluded us in Atlanta.  Through Mayor Reed’s leadership, there is renewed commitment across multiple agencies to figuring out how to pool our resources, coordinate our policies, and leverage our investments to achieve better equity throughout the City.

As Atlanta continues to grow and attract businesses, residents, talent, and investment – with the Atlanta BeltLine as a key ingredient in this growth – we are focusing as a community on solutions. Citizens, advocates, public officials, and professionals are working to ensure that families of a variety of incomes can access affordable living.

New funding, tools, programs, and partnerships have been introduced in the past year to help ensure that families can remain and prosper from an improving Atlanta and along the Atlanta BeltLine.

For example, in May 2016, the City of Atlanta established a city-wide affordable housing ordinance that requires any multi-family residential property for lease that receives a subsidy, grant, incentive or land from a development authority or public entity in Atlanta to set aside affordable units.

Additionally, the Atlanta BeltLine will fund an estimated $15 million for affordable workforce housing over the next three years.  Over 330 affordable workforce units are in predevelopment or under construction in the Atlanta BeltLine TAD.  A completed example is Reynoldstown Senior, a recently opened 70-unit development located near the southern extension of the Eastside Trail, which will bring walkability, opportunities for better health, and new economic vibrancy to Reynoldstown and surrounding neighborhoods.  This project was made possible through a combination of investments by Mercy Housing, the City of Atlanta’s Office of Housing and Community Development, Invest Atlanta, the BeltLine Affordable Housing Trust Fund, and Atlanta Housing Authority’s HomeFlex program. Reynoldstown Senior provides opportunities for residents to age in place, which is a key component of any affordable housing strategy. You can hear residents share how their quality of life is improving as a result of this project by watching this video.

Reynoldstown Senior is a recently opened 70-unit development located near the southern extension of the Atlanta BeltLIne Eastside Trail, which will bring walkability, opportunities for better health, and new economic vibrancy to Reynoldstown and surrounding neighborhoods.

The Atlanta Housing Authority (AHA), which has transformed multiple former public housing sites into market-quality, affordable communities, is pre-qualifying developers for the Englewood Manor redevelopment area along the southeastern section of the Atlanta BeltLine near Boulevard Crossing Park. In line with AHA’s mission, AHA’s vision for the Englewood development is to create a mixed-income community alongside quality schools, recreation and greenspace, unique commercial and retail space, and sound public improvements, creative stormwater solutions, greenspace and innovative transportation network developed in partnership with the Atlanta BeltLine.  AHA will work with the community and ABI to develop an area development plan that creates a unique sense of place for Englewood Manor.  This project will also leverage investments by Invest Atlanta, the City of Atlanta, Atlanta Public Schools and other large area landowners to reinvest in the community.

The biggest recent investment in affordable housing came last month, when the Atlanta City Council committed to issuing Housing Opportunity Bonds – netting an estimated $32 million – for the first time since 2007.  The proceeds will provide funding for homeowner rehabilitation, down payment assistance, incentives for developers, and land acquisition for affordable housing.   The City of Atlanta, Invest Atlanta, and others have also advanced owner occupied rehabilitation efforts through partners in neighborhoods across the City.

These are just a few of the opportunities before us as a result of strong public leadership that is generating new investment in affordable living in our city.  They are seeds of a solution that will require cultivation, focus, growth, and support from all stakeholders.  No government, public efforts, or episodic investments can solve the scale and diversity of the affordable housing challenge alone.  We welcome the partnership and investment of developers in expanding housing supply and building affordable workforce housing. We welcome opportunities for the private sector and philanthropy to invest alongside this public commitment.  We welcome complementary policies that can extend the impact of constrained financial resources, and we look forward to discovering new ways to collaborate with others to achieve the community’s aspirations for affordability around the Atlanta BeltLine and throughout the City. 

This article originally appeared as a Saporta Report Thought Leadership column on April 21, 2017.

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