There are many reasons we love to call Atlanta home, as do the thousands of people moving here every year. As that growth and development occurs, we need to fight to ensure that Atlanta remains affordable for the people who have long called it home, as well as the people who work hard every day to keep our doors open. Here are the core elements of Kasim’s plan to ensure affordability and workforce housing throughout the City:
- Conduct a city-wide audit of the area’s current affordable housing digest, ensuring that current affordability commitments are being met.
- Create Atlanta’s first-ever Office of Anti-Displacement.
- Make better use of currently owned public land.
- Layer units to help both low and middle-income households.
- Build housing for middle income city employees, including public safety officers and teachers, so they can live in the town they serve.
- Double the number of affordable units near MARTA stations without jeopardizing or destabilizing historic single-family neighborhoods.
We need to better leverage current public real estate assets, particularly the properties owned by the Atlanta Housing Authority and MARTA, and leverage the federal dollars available to expand affordable, transit-oriented housing options. We need to layer the affordable units so that we have options to serve low-income households earning up to 60% of area median income, while also supporting middle-income households that earn up to 100% of median income.
A good example from Kasim’s prior term is the partnership with the Atlanta Police Foundation called Secure Neighborhoods. That program offers sworn Atlanta Police Department officers affordable options and incentives to purchase a home that has been renovated or built from the ground up in English Avenue, Vine City, and Pittsburgh. That program aids in officer retention, helps reknit the fabric of those communities, and ensures that the people who serve our city can afford to live in it as well.
We have to create more workforce housing that serves this middle-income market, allowing teachers, police officers, firefighters, and other city employees to live where they work. With a focus on public-private partnerships, we can help double the number of affordable units at or near MARTA stations from 1,500 completed, under construction or in planning, to over 3,000.
At the same time, we do not need to sacrifice what makes Atlanta special – like our historic in-town neighborhoods – if we take intentional steps to create affordability and density in areas that can support and welcome it. We’ll use warning metrics, like water and utility disruption, to identify legacy residents that need additional support to maintain their homes. We have been told we either need to choose affordability or historic and community preservation, but that’s a false choice that Kasim rejects.
Atlanta has taken solid steps to create and preserve long-term affordability, but we know we must do more. Displacement does not have to be the inevitable result of economic growth and neighborhood change. With intentional policies to protect lower income residents, they can stay and access the benefits of improved housing, job opportunities, and access to transit.