Atlanta First United Methodist Church tapped to build affordable housing

Credit: Miguel Martinez for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Credit: Miguel Martinez for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

The city of Atlanta has broke ground on its first faith-based affordable housing project.

Atlanta Mayor Andre Dickens wants to create 2,000 units on church-owned land as part of his plan to create or preserve 20,000 affordable homes by 2030. He made that announcement in February at Atlanta First United Methodist Church, and he recently announced the church was selected for the initiative.

Atlanta First UMC is planning to build a $140 million, two-tower development with 320 units, Dickens said. He said 85% of those homes will be affordable. The church also plans to create new spaces for the Atlanta First Day School, a new fellowship hall, and more, Dickens said.

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On Sunday, Dickens praised the church for taking its “God-size vision” for 360 Peachtree Street and directing that vision toward the city’s affordable housing goals.

“As Atlanta First UMC concludes their 175th anniversary celebration, they look forward in faith to how they can further impact this community,” Dickens said.

Credit: Miguel Martinez for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Credit: Miguel Martinez for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

City leaders revealed in February that Enterprise Community Partners, a national nonprofit that creates affordable homes, is using a $1.3 million grant from Wells Fargo to help 15 faith-based organizations build on land owned by places of worship. Meaghan Vlkovic, Enterprise’s vice president and Southeast market leader, said at the time that they want to build units for renters with incomes below 80% of the area median income, which is $69,440 for a family of three.

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Dickens says more than 200 faith leaders have expressed an interest in learning how to redevelop their land for housing. He told the Georgia Brownfield Association last month that many people attend worship services virtually at their churches, mosques and temples, leaving these organizations with huge underutilized parking lots and adjacent land.

With this in mind, Dickens said 10% of the units within his 20,000-unit goal could be built on the faith community’s underutilized land. He quipped that it’s only fair for the city to set that benchmark since a church typically seeks 10% in tithes from its members.

“We can go vertical on those properties and be able to put senior residents in them or affordable housing,” Dickens said. “Mixed-income communities can come about on church land.”