Atlanta City Council ratifies new leadership at Atlanta Housing Authority

The Atlanta City Council held their first in person meeting since they were suspended at start of the pandemic In Atlanta on Monday, March 21, 2022.   (Bob Andres / robert.andres@ajc.com)

Credit: robert.andres@ajc.com

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The Atlanta City Council held their first in person meeting since they were suspended at start of the pandemic In Atlanta on Monday, March 21, 2022. (Bob Andres / robert.andres@ajc.com)

Credit: robert.andres@ajc.com

Atlanta City Council has ratified the appointments of three board members overseeing the Atlanta Housing Authority, which is designed to provide affordable housing citywide.

Earlier this month, Atlanta Mayor Andre Dickens announced plans to replace a majority of Atlanta Housing’s leadership by appointing Duriya Farooqui, Doug Hooker, Sarah Kirsch and Larry Stewart to serve on the board for the next five years.

The council on Monday unanimously ratified Farooqui, Kirsch and Stewart after the three publicly expressed their interest in their appointments at the council’s Community Development/Human Services Committee last week. Hooker was absent the committee meeting.

ExploreInside City Hall: Why Dickens changed course on new affordable housing funds

Dickens said AHA Board Chair Dr. Christopher R. Edwards; Vice Chair Kirk Rich; Commissioner Pat D. Dixon, Jr.; and Commissioner Robert Highsmith, Jr. each resigned from Atlanta Housing.

The remaining three commissioners — Rosalind Elliott, Sheila Harris and Tené Traylor — will continue in their positions.

Housing advocates and city leaders have long complained that Atlanta Housing has not built more affordable housing in years. But Dickens also lauded the agency for stabilizing the organization, hiring a new CEO and for working with his administration this year to resolve the long-standing litigation with the real estate developer Integral.

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Atlanta Housing Authority CEO Eugene Jones Jr. speaks during the ribbon cutting ceremony for the Villages of East Lake grand reopening on Monday, May 9, 2022. (Natrice Miller / natrice.miller@ajc.com)

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

Atlanta Housing Authority CEO Eugene Jones Jr. speaks during the ribbon cutting ceremony for the Villages of East Lake grand reopening on Monday, May 9, 2022. (Natrice Miller / natrice.miller@ajc.com)

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

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Atlanta Housing Authority CEO Eugene Jones Jr. speaks during the ribbon cutting ceremony for the Villages of East Lake grand reopening 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

Kirsch told councilmembers last week she has focused on housing affordability for nearly eight years as the previous executive director at the Urban Land Institute in Atlanta. Stewart said he worked on Atlanta’s four-year-old “inclusionary zoning” policy requiring affordable units in new rentals around the Beltline and some Westside neighborhoods.

Farooqui, who previously worked at City Hall for six years, said Atlanta Housing has an opportunity to reset its vision and strategy for housing by collaborating with the city’s other agencies and departments.

“I think the next phase has to focus on execution, building more affordable units,” she said.

Atlanta Housing’s next meeting is May 25, which is when the new board will likely elect its next chair.