Mayor Andre Dickens moved to replace four of the seven Atlanta Housing (AH) commissioners Monday, further signaling his desire to shed the stigmatized reputation the housing authority earned during previous administrations.
Dickens said during a Rotary Club of Atlanta meeting on Monday that big changes were on the horizon for the embattled agency, which has for years been ensnared in leadership turmoil and lawsuits.
The hint came just hours before the Atlanta City Council clerk read in four communications to appoint former Urban Land Institute Atlanta head Sarah Kirsch, former Atlanta Regional Commission head Doug Hooker, businesswoman and former city of Atlanta chief operating officer Duriya Farooqui, and Larry Stewart, the vice chair of the Atlanta Housing Commission—an extragovernmental advisory board not affiliated with AH.
The new slate of commissioners, which must still be approved by city council members, is expected to replace AH board chair Christopher Edwards and Robert Highsmith, both of whom are holdovers from Kasim Reed’s administration who were reappointed by Keisha Lance Bottoms, as well as Bottoms appointees Kirk Rich and Pat Dixon, Jr.
Dickens has accepted resignations from those four, according to a statement from his office. AH commissioners Rosalind Elliott, Sheila Harris, and Tené Traylor will continue in their posts.
“I thank the four retiring members of the board of commissioners for their steadfast commitment to our city,” Dickens said in the statement. “Through their service to Atlanta Housing, they have stabilized the organization, hired a new CEO, and launched major projects, including building the first new affordable housing in the city in years. I also deeply appreciate their partnership in resolving the long-standing litigation with Integral earlier this year.”
The mayor praised Edwards’ leadership and his role in providing rent vouchers and down payment assistance, but the city must step up its affordable housing creation efforts to fight the affordability crisis.
“With housing prices on the rise and inflation cutting deeply into paychecks, there is no time to waste on our plan to build and preserve homes that our residents can afford,” Dickens said. “Atlanta Housing is an important partner in achieving our vision to build or preserve 20,000 units of affordable housing. My appointments to the board share my vision and have wide-ranging expertise and leadership experience in both the public and private sectors to get the job done.”