Atlanta City Council OKs laws to improve access to affordable housing

Mayor Andre Dickens takes a tour of The Villages of East Lake in Atlanta after the grand reopening ceremony on Monday, May 9, 2022. (Natrice Miller / natrice.miller@ajc.com)

Credit: Natrice Miller / Natrice.Miller@ajc.com

Credit: Natrice Miller / Natrice.Miller@ajc.com

Mayor Andre Dickens takes a tour of The Villages of East Lake in Atlanta after the grand reopening ceremony on Monday, May 9, 2022. (Natrice Miller / natrice.miller@ajc.com)

Atlanta City Council passed three forms of legislation Tuesday aimed at improving access to affordable housing in the city.

The biggest new law authorizes Mayor Andre Dickens to execute plans to obtain a $100 million bond for affordable housing. Those funds would support speeding up the development of affordable housing on publicly owned land, ensuring adequate financing for new affordable housing developments, and preserving affordability of the existing housing supply.

Dickens announced last month that the bond would supplement a $100 million housing commitment from the Community Foundation for Greater Atlanta.

The Community Foundation also raising another $100 million for housing, said Councilman Matt Westmoreland. Westmoreland said the foundation is about a third of the way toward that goal.

Westmoreland, who introduced the bond ordinance, also said the bond will support the construction of new units for families that make 60% of the area median income ― $61,260 for a four-person household — or less.

The City Council also passed two ordinances to allocate $1.4 million from the city’s budding Affordable Trust Fund in order to help residents. One of the ordinances will put $800,000 into the city solicitor’s office to hire more attorneys to tackle property violations.

Atlanta and Fulton County prosecutors voiced plans to crack down on at least 43 complexes after The Atlanta Journal-Constitution published a year-long investigation on unsafe and unsanitary apartments in metro Atlanta last year. Following the AJC’s ‘Dangerous Dwellings’ series, Dickens created a “Safe and Secure Housing Program” to actively track all multifamily properties citywide, identifying and addressing the city’s blighted properties.

The council also voted to put $600,000 into launching a new Housing Help Center. According to the mayor’s office, the center will be a one-stop shop for Atlanta residents seeking affordable housing resources. The center will be physically located at City Hall, and virtually via a website and hotline.

The center is already hiring staff and is expected to launch by the end of the summer, according to the mayor’s office. Dickens said in a statement last month that the trust fund dollars are being used for the right purpose.

“Creating affordable housing isn’t just about building new housing,” said Dickens, who wants to build or preserve 20,000 affordable units by 2026.

“I am committed to meeting our city’s families where they already are with the help they need. The Housing Help Center and Safe and Secure Housing Program are critical components for a healthy affordable housing ecosystem, and I am proud to lead a City that invests in supporting not just construction — but people.