Atlanta renovates 271 affordable housing units in the East Lake area

Mayor Andre Dickens takes a tour of The Villages of East Lake alongside Catherine Woodling of The East Lake Foundation on Monday, May 9, 2022. (Natrice Miller / natrice.miller@ajc.com)

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

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Mayor Andre Dickens takes a tour of The Villages of East Lake alongside Catherine Woodling of The East Lake Foundation on Monday, May 9, 2022. (Natrice Miller / natrice.miller@ajc.com)

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

Atlanta Mayor Andre Dickens joined developers on Monday to celebrate one of Georgia’s largest affordable housing renovations, in the city’s East Lake community in DeKalb County.

The Villages of East Lake is a mixed-income community that was built in the 1990s to replace East Lake Meadows with townhouses, duplexes, and garden apartments. Half of the community’s 542 units are subsidized by Atlanta Housing for families making 30% or less of the Atlanta metro area’s $86,200 median income, which is $26,500 for a family of four, according to the city’s planning department.

Dickens toured the Villages of East Lake after he celebrated the community’s new $82 million renovation. The completed project falls within the mayor’s goal to build or preserve 20,000 affordable units within eight years.

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Mayor Andre Dickens at the ribbon cutting ceremony for the grand reopening of The Villages of East Lake in Atlanta on Monday, May 9, 2022. (Natrice Miller / natrice.miller@ajc.com)

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

Mayor Andre Dickens at the ribbon cutting ceremony for the grand reopening of The Villages of East Lake in Atlanta on Monday, May 9, 2022. (Natrice Miller / natrice.miller@ajc.com)

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

Combined ShapeCaption
Mayor Andre Dickens at the ribbon cutting ceremony for the grand reopening of The Villages of East Lake in Atlanta 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

“I love it,” Dickens said while touring a renovated unit. “I think the residents that are moving back in are going to be really excited to see all these new floors and new appliances.”

The upgrades at Villages of East Lake include new exteriors, flooring, cabinets, a fitness center, and landscaping, among others. It is located within walking distance to a MARTA bus stop, the East Lake Learning Academy, a Sheltering Arms early education and family center, and Drew Charter School.

Several residents with their students from the nearby charter school attended the morning ceremony that was hosted by the development’s partners, such as the city of Atlanta, East Lake Foundation, Atlanta Housing, the Georgia Department of Community Affairs, Truist Bank, and Columbia Residential.

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Dickens and Eugene Jones, the Atlanta Housing President and CEO, said the renovated development is a model for mixed-used communities nationwide. Several leaders present also said the renovation falls within the city’s commitment to revitalizing the East Lake community.

“For more than 20 years, we have invested and supported this vibrant community and really believe that it is a model for community development,” said Jenna Kelly, Truist Bank’s Group Regional President.

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Shannon Longino, a Senior VP at Truist Bank and former resident of the East Lake community chats with students from Drew Charter School on Monday, May 9, 2022. (Natrice Miller / natrice.miller@ajc.com)

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

Shannon Longino, a Senior VP at Truist Bank and former resident of the East Lake community chats with students from Drew Charter School on Monday, May 9, 2022.  (Natrice Miller / natrice.miller@ajc.com)

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

Combined ShapeCaption
Shannon Longino, a Senior VP at Truist Bank and former resident of the East Lake community chats with students from Drew Charter School 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

Shannon Heath-Longino, a senior vice president at Truist, recalled how her grandmother raised her in the East Lake community years ago when she was a baby. She lauded the elected leaders and real estate experts who put in the work to create a place where residents can afford the housing and utility costs within a safe walking distance to resources for more education.

“We were in the trenches, in the red mud ducking bullets, and our apartment was fired on two times because they did not want to see the community that you see today...There’s more work to be done. Not just in East Lake, but throughout the city,” Heath-Longino said.