Atlanta Mayor Andre Dickens announced Wednesday that the city has made a decision about how to spend $58.7 million to create affordable housing, help prevent evictions, and help the homeless — without placing additional burdens on city taxpayers.
The city will spend $20.9 million from its’ Affordable Housing Trust Fund, which came from the Centennial Yards Company in October after the city OK’d the Gulch redevelopment plan during former Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms’ administration.
Additionally, the mayor’s office announced the federal government recently gave the city $22.5 million in emergency rental assistance to prevent evictions. Atlanta is also planning to use $6.2 million and $9.1 million from the federal American Rescue Plan to support the homeless and the relocation of tenants from the deteriorating Forest Cove Apartments in southeast Atlanta’s Thomasville Heights community, respectively, reported by AJC.
The mayor acknowledged in a statement Wednesday that Atlanta doesn’t have enough affordable housing to meet the demands of its growing population. He actions come after the Atlanta Regional Commission reported in March that Metro Atlanta lost nearly 60,000 housing units renting for less than $1,250 per month from 2014 through 2019.
Dickens has an ambitious goal of building or preserving 20,000 affordable units in eight years.
The funding announcement was also made in conjunction with the first meeting of the mayor’s Affordable Housing Strike Force. The group is comprised of leaders from government and the nonprofit industry.
The members of the strike force are Atlanta Chief Operating Officer Lisa Gordon; Courtney English, Dickens’ senior advisor; MARTA Interim General Manager & CEO Collie Greenwood; Atlanta Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Lisa Herring; Atlanta BeltLine President & CEO Clyde Higgs; Atlanta Housing President & CEO Eugene Jones, Jr.; Invest Atlanta President & CEO Dr. Eloisa Klementich; Metro Atlanta Land Bank Executive Director Christopher Norman, and Atlanta Land Trust Executive Director Amanda Rhein.
Using the strike force, the mayor wants to partner with nonprofits, faith leaders and private developers to identify and obtain the land needed for more affordable housing. The mayor’s office said the group is already searching for sites that are ready for short term development, as well as other large-scale project sites.
“Housing, education and transportation are inextricably linked for families, so we need to approach this work in a holistic and coordinated manner,” Dickens said in a statement. “We will be looking at the potential of redeveloping vacant school buildings and ensuring that transit will be part of every development opportunity at the outset.”
Altogether, the $58.7 million commitment is one of the city’s largest-ever single-year housing investments, according to the mayor’s office.
“Since day one of my administration, the development and preservation of affordable housing has been at the top of our agenda, and the steps we are taking today will rocket us forward. Atlantans deserve access to high-quality homes that they can afford,” Dickens said in a statement.