Atlanta mayor wants to build 1,000 affordable homes with faith leaders

Atlanta Mayor Andre Dickens addressed plans to build 1,000 affordable housing units over the next five years in partnership with Wells Fargo and several faith-based organizations. Wednesday, February 23, 2022. Miguel Martinez for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Credit: Miguel Martinez for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

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Atlanta Mayor Andre Dickens addressed plans to build 1,000 affordable housing units over the next five years in partnership with Wells Fargo and several faith-based organizations. Wednesday, February 23, 2022. Miguel Martinez for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Credit: Miguel Martinez for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Atlanta Mayor Andre Dickens plans to create 1,000 affordable homes over the next five years in a partnership with the city’s faith community.

The city plans to work with Enterprise Community Partners, a national nonprofit that creates affordable homes, to help 15 faith-based organizations build on land owned by churches and other places of worship, said Dickens alongside several faith and organization leaders recently.

Wells Fargo is giving Enterprise $8.5 million in grants, which includes $1.3 million for the Atlanta metro area, said Meaghan Vlkovic, Enterprise’s vice president and Southeast market leader.

Vlkovic said they want to build housing for renters with incomes below 80% of the area median income, which is $86,200, according to the city’s planning department.

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Meaghan Vlkovic from Enterprise Community Partners speaks at a press conference about the partnership with the city of Atlanta and Wells Fargo about the plans to build 1,000 affordable housing units over the next five years. Wednesday, February 23, 2022. Miguel Martinez for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Credit: Miguel Martinez for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Meaghan Vlkovic from Enterprise Community Partners speaks at a press conference about the partnership with the city of Atlanta and Wells Fargo about the plans to build 1,000 affordable housing units over the next five years.
Wednesday, February 23, 2022. Miguel Martinez for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Credit: Miguel Martinez for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Combined ShapeCaption
Meaghan Vlkovic from Enterprise Community Partners speaks at a press conference about the partnership with the city of Atlanta and Wells Fargo about the plans to build 1,000 affordable housing units over the next five years. Wednesday, February 23, 2022. Miguel Martinez for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Credit: Miguel Martinez for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Credit: Miguel Martinez for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Dickens wants to create or preserve 20,000 affordable homes in eight years. Former Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms wanted to invest $1 billion towards a similar goal of 20,000 units by 2026. She reached 7,000 units built and raised more than $700 million.

Last month, Dickens said 10% of forthcoming units could be built on the faith community’s underutilized land. He quipped Wednesday that it’s only fair for the city to set that benchmark since a church typically seeks 10% in tithes from its members.

The funds provided through Wells Fargo will help with technical assistance and predevelopment, such as architectural drawings and environmental studies of the land targeted for housing, Dickens said.

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Eileen Fitzgerald, head of Housing Affordability Philanthropy with Wells Fargo speaks at a press conference about the partnership with the city of Atlanta and Enterprise Community Partners about building 1,000 affordable housing units over the next five years.

Credit: Miguel Martinez for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Eileen Fitzgerald, head of Housing Affordability Philanthropy with Wells Fargo speaks at a press conference about the partnership with the city of Atlanta and Enterprise Community Partners about building 1,000 affordable housing units over the next five years.

Credit: Miguel Martinez for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Combined ShapeCaption
Eileen Fitzgerald, head of Housing Affordability Philanthropy with Wells Fargo speaks at a press conference about the partnership with the city of Atlanta and Enterprise Community Partners about building 1,000 affordable housing units over the next five years.

Credit: Miguel Martinez for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Credit: Miguel Martinez for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

A spokesman for Dickens said Enterprise led the effort to bring the Wells Fargo funding to Atlanta. He said the program will also help faith communities apply for more funds, such as from Atlanta’s Housing Opportunity Bond.

The initiative comes as rent and real estate costs soar nationwide, creating housing shortages and barriers to land acquisition and construction of affordable units. But in Fulton County alone, faith-based organizations own more than 6,000 acres, much of which is underutilized, according to Enterprise.

An Enterprise spokesman said the program application will be available on the nonprofit’s website by April. The housing initiative will begin in June.

Eileen Fitzgerald, head of Housing Affordability Philanthropy with Wells Fargo, said the banking giant previously contributed funding to Thrive Sweet Auburn, a mixed-use development near completion that will offer 117 affordable apartments near downtown.

“We all need to work together to deploy more tools to think about things differently to address our current housing challenges, whether that be in constructing homes, supporting renters, or providing opportunities for new homebuyers,” said Fitzgerald.

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