By Sean Keenan
The new chair of the Atlanta City Council’s Community Development and Human Services committee says landlords who take advantage of public subsidies, such as tax breaks, should be legally required to accept vouchers from the city’s housing authority.
Atlanta City Councilman Matt Westmoreland, a first-term elected official, believes enacting such a law could help combat the city’s mounting affordable housing crisis, according to a report from the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
Today, landlords are allowed to decline Housing Choice vouchers from Atlanta Housing (AH), even if they utilize public benefits from the city. Sometimes, they’ll opt to turn away voucher recipients to avoid the stigma long-associated with public housing, AH officials have said.
AH CEO Eugene Jones thinks policymakers could take things a step further.
“There shouldn’t be a landlord in this state that should be allowed to turn down Section 8 vouchers,” he told SaportaReport in a recent interview, referring to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Housing Choice Voucher Program.
Jones, though, recognizes that getting such legislation passed by the Georgia Legislature would be far more difficult than doing so at the municipal level.
Still, he said, “If you want [voucher recipients] to have a higher quality of life, and let them live in better communities and have better schools, they should have that opportunity.”
Urbanist blog ThreadATL, in a recent Facebook post, praised Westmoreland for his ambition: “This would be a good way to help the people who are most in need of affordable housing near transit and jobs… It certainly seems like the least we could expect of any developer that gets tax breaks for building housing.”
Westmoreland told SaportaReport’s that relevant legislation is expected to surface in coming weeks.