Atlanta Mayor Andre Dickens announced he’s crafting a new “affordable housing strike force” in his first State of the City address April 4, billing it as a “one-stop shop” to coordinate the city’s housing affordability efforts. But what exactly will be the group’s responsibilities?
The strike force will launch in two weeks with top officials from Atlanta Housing, Invest Atlanta, the Atlanta Land Bank, MARTA, Atlanta Public Schools, and Atlanta Beltline, Inc., mayor’s office spokesperson Michael Smith told Atlanta Civic Circle this week.
Those agency heads will assemble a team of housing experts to take stock of all development-ripe municipal land—though it’s unclear how that would differ from a similar initiative by the city planning department last year—review public incentives options available to developers, and streamline the city’s permitting office to fast-track affordable housing construction.
But beyond that, the mayor’s office has not yet fleshed out details about the strike force. Its purpose, though, is to ultimately map out a plan on how to develop and preserve 20,000 affordable housing units over the next eight years—one of Dickens’ campaign goals.
“For far too long, housing in Atlanta has been out of reach for working class people who want to call our city home, including some of our city employees,” Dickens said in the speech Monday. “When I was on the City Council, I got word that some of our police recruits were actually sleeping in their cars during training.”
While we await further details, Atlanta Civic Circle has made a list of what we’d like to see from the mayor’s new affordable housing strike force:
- A timeline for affordable housing milestones. Constituents should have a checklist that shows what projects are in the works and when new or renovated units are ready for occupancy.
- A thorough audit of Atlanta’s inclusionary zoning policies. Which developers’ projects have met or exceeded affordable housing requirements for tax breaks—and which have fallen behind?
- A report on how Atlanta can expand its inclusionary zoning policies to incentivize affordable housing in areas that are starved for investment and need more residential options—not just around the Beltline and other fast-gentrifying areas.
- An assessment of how Invest Atlanta and other city entities that provide subsidies to developers decide which projects merit taxpayer assistance.
- A look at how tax breaks and other public subsidies to developers from city sources interact with those that other government agencies, such as the Georgia Department of Community Affairs and the Fulton County Development Authority, award to developers.
- A detailed plan for how Atlanta Housing (AH) will achieve its goal to build and renovate 2,700 affordable housing units in the 2023 fiscal year, which starts July 1.
- Legislation developed with the city planning department that allows for more dense and diverse residential development, including small- and mid-size apartment buildings, accessory dwelling units, and tiny homes.
- Policies to prevent blight in underserved areas—for example, by beefing up punitive measures for absentee property owners who neglect their land and buildings.
What would you like to see from the mayor’s affordable housing strike force? Let us know in the comments below.