As the city of Atlanta grapples with its housing affordability crisis, news abounds of municipal and nonprofit efforts to boost the intown residential housing stock and provide services to lower-income renters.
Atlanta Civic Circle is launching a biweekly newsletter, “Housing Happenings,” to distill the torrent of Atlanta’s important housing stories in an easily digestible way so that you can stay informed.
Sean Keenan, ACC’s housing reporter is the lead writer for the newsletter, with editing from Meredith Hobbs.
For our inaugural dispatch, here’s a brief breakdown of what local city leaders, activists, experts, and renters are doing, thinking, and need to know.
Atlanta Housing could soon okay redevelopment plans for the Atlanta Civic Center.
Eugene Jones, the public housing authority’s chief executive, told Atlanta Civic Circle in a July 18 email that the agency’s board of commissioners will “hopefully” vote on a master development agreement for the iconic Old Fourth Ward site during its July 26 meeting.
Atlanta Housing tapped the joint venture of Republic Properties, the Michaels Organization, and Sophy Capital—two national developers and a local minority-owned investor—to serve as master developers for the massive undertaking last fall.
Their winning proposal for the 20-acre property includes over 1,300 new residences, with 40% deemed affordable housing—305 government-subsidized units and another 220 units priced as affordable for households earning up to 80% of the area median income.
The property, which is anchored by the Civic Center and its famous 4,600-seat theater, has been sitting idle since 2014, as multiple previous redevelopment plans fell through.
Invest Atlanta is seeking a team to reimagine downtown’s Two Peachtree Street tower—with lots of housing.
The city’s economic development arm began soliciting qualified developers last year to retrofit the old office tower located by the Five Points MARTA station with hundreds of new residences, plus office space and retail.
After closing on the $39 million purchase from the state of Georgia in February, Invest Atlanta issued a formal request for proposals on July 7.
Firms have until Sept. 1 to submit their ideas for the site, which Mayor Andre Dickens’ office has promised will set aside a “big chunk” of the 41-story building for affordable housing. It’s yet unclear exactly what constitutes a big chunk, but the mayor’s top housing advisor, Joshua Humphries, told Atlanta Civic Circle in February it would be “upwards of 500 total units.”
Forest Cove is for sale.
The notoriously dilapidated and now-vacant Section 8 apartment complex was condemned and ordered demolished by an Atlanta judge in December 2021, but the property owner, Ohio-based mega-landlord Millennia Housing Management, appealed that ruling, angling to save the 396 rental units from the wrecking ball and renovate Forest Cove instead.
But the U.S. Department Housing and Urban Development revoked Millennia’s contract on June 30 for Forest Cove to receive rent subsidies via Section 8 vouchers—citing a documented history of mismanagement. Now, Millennia is asking roughly $33 million for the 22-acre complex, according to one potential buyer.
A Millennia representative told Atlanta Civic Circle earlier this month that the developer intends to sell to an entity willing to help realize the ambitious Thomasville Heights Neighborhood Plan, a 175-page blueprint for the community’s revitalization.
The city of Atlanta stepped in and relocated almost 200 low-income households still living at Forest Cove to other complexes accepting Section 8 vouchers last year. The Mayor’s office has promised to invite them to return to Thomasville Heights once new affordable housing units are built—which could be several years down the road.
HUD officials recently announced that the former Forest Cove residents will receive portable housing vouchers in August that allow them to move to any apartment that accepts government-subsidized rent payments.
The new Atlanta Urban Development Corporation promises “European-style social housing.” The nonprofit development group that the city plans to launch later this month aims to fast-track intown affordable housing projects, which ordinarily are financed by complex public-private partnerships between city entities and for-profit developers receiving tax incentives.
Humphries, the mayor’s housing advisor, told Atlanta Civic Circle that the Thomasville Heights redevelopment could become a pilot project for the planned development corporation—and the city itself will undertake to build mixed-income housing on public land in the neighborhood.
The corporation will mimic European models that foster housing developments heavily reliant on market-rate rentals—a way to “cross-subsidize” the units priced for renters earning little to no income.
The Atlanta City Council just approved a $3.5 million boost to the city’s affordable housing trust fund—with a major caveat. Housing advocates, city council members, and a local think tank, the Center for Civic Innovation, kicked up a fuss, claiming the mayor’s office had underfunded the trust fund for the 2024 fiscal year that started July 1.
In response, Councilmember Jason Dozier championed a city ordinance to add $3.5 million from Atlanta’s general fund to the $8 million Dickens’ FY24 budget called for, but the legislation was amended just days before it passed with language allowing the city to rescind the extra funding if it finds itself financially unstable at the end of this calendar year.
Have you got tips, story ideas, or questions about Atlanta’s multifarious housing issues? Email Sean Keenan at firstname.lastname@example.org.