A state lawmaker is preparing legislation that would repeal Georgia’s decades-old ban on rent control measures, and Atlanta Mayor Andre Dickens said this week that limiting how much landlords can raise rent could help lower-income tenants afford to live where they work.

State Sen. Donzella James, D-Atlanta, told Capital B Atlanta this week that she plans to propose a bill in the current legislative session to do away with the state law from 1984 that prohibits rent control.

In landlord-friendly Georgia, James told Capital B, “It’s not going to be easy, but we’re going to work with [Republicans] and, hopefully, they will put a cap on [rent] if they do nothing else.”

If the Georgia Legislature does make the unlikely move to lift rent control prohibition, Atlanta would enact its own law to regulate rent prices, Dickens said at a Feb. 1 press conference.

“I disagree with the state’s decision at that time to have a ban on rent control statewide,” he said. “I think jurisdictions can make their own decisions.”

“We won’t be able to build our way out of this crisis,” Dickens said, noting that his administration is on track to build and renovate 20,000 affordable residences for rent by 2030. But rent control laws would have to be crafted for Atlanta, and not a carbon copy of the more sweeping rent control measures in cities like New York, Dickens said.

Instead of a “one-size-fits-all” approach, Dickens said, he’d consider rent increase caps tailored to different parts of the city, based on income levels, housing types, and the length of time renters have spent at their homes.

In the state Legislature, he said, “Right now, we’re at a universal ‘no,’ but if we could get to a ‘yes, but,’ then that is worth [James’s] efforts.”

While state law currently prohibits any form of rent stabilization measures, Dickens said Atlanta could take other actions to slow rent increases, as they continue to rise faster than wages. 

The city also can’t enact its own minimum wage law, because Georgia law prohibits that. But the mayor said expanding Atlanta’s inclusionary zones, which require new residential developments in fast-evolving areas to include affordable units, “is something I would look at.”

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  1. If the city wants low cost housing they should build it, develop and manage it themselves. They have the Land bank use it. “Oh wait managing property is hard” and they rather pass the buck to private enterprise. The only thing rent control will do is keep people in a unit for decades paying below market rate while the landlord suffers under higher and higher property taxes and cant afford to maintain the units properly.

    AHA dropped the ball when they demolished all the public housing in the Late 1990s and 2000s. Mix income housing does not work. Poverty will always re-concentrate. When the crime rate goes up, those with means will move.
    Inclusionary zoning is a joke also. Having low income people living next to high income people will not create some sort of osmosis of social upward mobility.

    There’s a reason people move to the suburbs and go to private schools. Casselberry hills behind Spelman college is a prime example; in the early 2000s mixed income then 15 years later Super ghetto. All the students and market rate rent prayers moved out. Crime got too high.
    Atlanta housing Authority has a rule that no more than 40% of the tenants in a complex can be section 8 voucher recipients. If that happens the complex is ineligible to receive payments. Citing, concentrated poverty. Then the complex goes down since they can’t receive rent and they are forced to lower their standards and service. It’s a vicious cycle.
    I’m convinced most of these so-called advocates never have owned property. They rather socially appropriate others due to the fact that they lack the skills and wherewithal to obtain their own. Let your local politicians find out you’re going to put affordable housing in their neighborhood and watch the not in my backyard rhetoric kick up quick. Bring dedicated public housing back/projects and watch the homeless rate drop. Nashville Tennessee has sprawling public housing that’s doing just fine.

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