Atlanta Habitat for Humanity affordable housing community gets $2 million boost

The Browns Mill Village development project broke ground in January 2022. (RENDERING: Atlanta Habitat for Humanity)

The Browns Mill Village development project broke ground in January 2022. (RENDERING: Atlanta Habitat for Humanity)

Atlanta Habitat for Humanity says it will receive $2 million in federal funding to build 20 homes at the Browns Mill Village mixed-income housing community.

Alan Ferguson, chief executive officer of the nonprofit, said Wednesday the organization would use the funds as part of the second phase of construction of 32 homes, originally slated for 2027.

He said the extra funding means that the organization could begin preliminary work on phase two as soon as next year. The first phase of construction of 134 homes is expected to be completed by the end of 2025.

“Without that funding, we would be trying to raise those funds from philanthropy, and corporate and city partnerships,” he said. “It allows us to accelerate the development of those homes so that we can open up opportunities for families to enjoy the benefits of homeownership.”

Georgia Sen. Jon Ossoff spearheaded the drive to secure the allocation, which came out of a $97.5 billion Transportation, Housing and Urban Development appropriations bill Congress passed in March. The allocation came from $1.06 billion earmarked for local community development and affordable housing projects, and Ossoff requested the $2 million as a Congressionally Directed Spending Project, according to his office.

“Georgia families urgently need more affordable housing. That’s why I brought Republicans and Democrats together to strengthen Atlanta Habitat’s efforts to build new housing units for families across Atlanta,” Ossoff said in prepared remarks.

Browns Mill Village is southeast of downtown Atlanta in the Orchard Knob neighborhood. The first phase includes 75 single and two-story, two- and three-bedroom homes, according to Atlanta Habitat. Cityscape Housing and the Atlanta Development Partnership will build an additional 59 townhomes at the 31-acre site.

Atlanta Habitat says it offers first-time home buyers a 30-year, interest-free mortgage with payments starting at $750 a month.

The community could provide much-needed relief for some prospective homebuyers locked in the rental market. In 2022, 22.4 million households were cost-burdened, spending more than 30% of their income on rent, according to the “2024 America’s Rental Housing” report by the Harvard University Joint Center for Housing Studies.

“Among cost-burdened households, 12.1 million had housing costs that consumed more than half of their income, an all-time high for severe burdens,” according to the report.

Americans need to make $114,000 a year to buy the typical home, according to a March analysis by national real estate brokerage site Redfin, 35% more than the typical household income of $84,000.

Ferguson said that Habitat is working with Georgia Sen. Raphael Warnock’s office on a budget proposal for the fiscal year 2025. In the meanwhile, he said the federal funding would have an impact beyond just building new homes in the neighborhood.

“Anytime we can make investments in our communities, especially some of the areas that have received less attention and less investment … that benefits everyone,” he said.

This story has been updated to clarify that the $2 million allocation came from funds earmarked for local community development and affordable housing projects.