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A conundrum that has several Old Fourth Ward renters fretting about their housing security has spotlighted the struggles of lower-income Atlantans living in fast-gentrifying communities.
Last week, Atlanta City Councilmember Amir Farokhi admonished the owner of a luxury apartment complex straddling the Beltline’s Eastside Trail for allegedly refusing to accept some renters’ housing vouchers, according to a letter his office sent to property management firm Carter Haston.
“Seven residents of the Edge [on the Beltline] have been notified that the property will no longer accept vouchers as a valid form of payment for monthly rent,” said the letter obtained by Atlanta Civic Circle.
But this is all just a misunderstanding, according to Zachary Mitchell, an asset manager at Carter Haston.
The property owner didn’t stop accepting government-subsidized rent, he said; in fact, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), which provides rent assistance to low-income Americans via its Section 8 program, simply stopped paying its portion of the bill after the company purchased the complex from developer North American Properties.
If HUD, which did not respond to a request for comment, doesn’t get current on rent and start paying regularly, Mitchell said, Edge on the Beltline won’t continue to participate in the Section 8 program.
The dilemma brings into focus an ordinance the city council passed in 2020 that amended Atlanta’s fair housing laws to ban discrimination based on a person’s income—and if or how it could be enforced.
Rent vouchers and “any other rent subsidy or rent assistance program” qualify as a “source of income,” according to the ordinance.
So if Carter Haston—or any other property management company—opts not to participate in a voucher program, could they face penalties for violating the ordinance? That’s something Farokhi said he wants to explore.
“I think the story here isn’t this instance [with Edge residents],” the councilman said in a text. “It’s whether the city is enforcing the ordinance.”
Officials with Mayor Andre Dickens’ office and the city’s legal department were not able to tell Atlanta Civic Circle whether the city has yet fielded any complaints citing the ordinance as of press time.
In the meantime, even though Mitchell said Carter Haston has not filed evictions against these seven residents, their housing stability seems up in the air.
If they’re unable to secure HUD support, they could seek assistance from AH’s Section 8 program, although the local housing authority has a waitlist for services with more than 24,000 applicants.
Did the Edge receive incentives to including “affordable housing” units? If so, by not accepting these vouchers will they be out of compliance and subject to penalities? I’m unsure what this situation is, but for a “luxury” complex to include Section 8 housing, I’d assume it must have been required as part of an incentive package? If they were doing it voluntarily, that may be another matter. Does the author know?
If there are 24,000 on a waiting list ahead of you, seeking help from that program means effectively zero help will come. Your article should reflect that better.
The Edge didn’t receive any incentives however, as a part of winning the RFP to purchase the property, agreed to provide some housing units at 80% AMI and below. Sounds like a bureaucratic mix-up where the seller and buyer didn’t submit the necessary paperwork to HUD to transfer payment to the new owner. Everything has a process when it comes to affordable housing.
Bottom line is this is no fault of the voucher holders renting from the Edge. The Edge/Carter Haston has dropped the ball and they ought to be held accountable for picking it up. Carter Haston can float a portion of the rent for as long as need be until they get right with HUD. Atlanta should absolutely impose penalties for violating the ordinance if the Edge stops accepting the vouchers as valid payment.
I currently live here the management and owners of this property don’t care about any resident. This place is slowly turning into what ever apartment building in Atlanta becomes. Absolute trash. The old managers and owner were awesome but these new ones have run this place into the ground!!!!
City Council member here, there is no red tape here it’s pure greed and lack of compassion, I’m told that all of the residents at this property that are on the Housing Choice program are seniors or disabled there are 2 widows one in her 80’s and the other in her 70’s and 1 military veteran in a wheelchair. And all 7 were placed there because they were considered ideal tenants and none of the residents ever had any complaints against them. I simply think management knows they can get higher market rate for those units now that rent has gone up so much…
Hello! I’m one of the 7 residents who got taken off the section 8 program. I’m going on my last month here due to the program fully ending in August. Luckily I found another apartment that will accept the voucher and I’m so thankful for that. But Carter Haston is lying through their teeth. They said in this article that they’ve stop receiving payments from HUD. After this situation happened I had to of course contact Atlanta housing authority about the situation and they informed me that the company hasn’t been accepting the payments since March which is about a month after Carter-Haston took over edge on the beltline. After I received my letter I spoke to the manager in the leasing office and asked her were they doing this to take the unit and rent it for market value and she said she had no clue. This during a recession is definitely not good and it makes the situation worse on the economy because of greedy landlords like this. I hope a lawsuit is out there for them because the Karma is coming for landlords like this.
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