In late June, MARTA announced it had teamed up with investment-banking giant Goldman Sachs for a $100 million initiative that promises to develop affordable housing units at and around transit stations. 

“The Atlanta Affordable Housing and Transit-Oriented Development (TOD) Initiative is a flexible, multi-product program designed to promote and support the development of ground-up mixed-income, TOD projects that benefit from proximity to MARTA’s 38 heavy rail stations and 12 Atlanta Streetcar light rail stops,” according to a blog post the transit agency published with SaportaReport.

The program has the potential to deliver much-needed affordable residences to metro Atlanta communities that might otherwise be deprived of such housing options. 

It’s too soon to say exactly how or where the money will be spent, according to Jacob Vallo, head of MARTA’S office of TOD development.

Still, he told Atlanta Civic Circle, “The geographic criteria of the initiative is such that there are and will be great impact investment opportunities for Goldman Sachs to support affordability throughout the region.”

Essentially, Vallo is saying MARTA and Goldman Sachs are committed to developing affordable housing even in communities in which it might otherwise not exist or be plentiful.

This endeavor isn’t MARTA’s first foray into affordable housing development. Vallo pointed to the roughly 1,500 affordable housing units that, per MARTA’s blog post, are “either completed, under construction, in negotiation, or in procurement/planning.” 

“Many of those units are located in Federal Opportunity Zones with plans for deep affordability as part of each project,” the post said, nodding to the economic development tool that leverages tax benefits to spur development in underserved and lower-income communities. 

MARTA officials have not yet responded to Atlanta Civic Circle’s inquiries regarding how many units could be produced by this initiative, nor have they announced a timeline for spending the money. 

Atlanta’s $100 million housing opportunity bond program provides at least some perspective, though. The newly passed program is expected to produce and preserve around 3,500 affordable residences citywide. 

In response to the TOD initiative, Atlanta Housing CEO Eugene Jones tweeted, “Access to stable, quality, affordable housing near reliable transportation is critical to every area of a person’s life and is connected to better health outcomes and economic mobility.”

So where can MARTA and Goldman Sachs build units to make the biggest impact? Sound off in the comments or email us.

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