Mayor heralds new community of affordable apartments on Atlanta’s Westside

Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms addresses the crowd at the ribbon-cutting ceremony for the new complex in English Avenue. (Jenni Girtman for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution)
Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms addresses the crowd at the ribbon-cutting ceremony for the new complex in English Avenue. (Jenni Girtman for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

Credit: Jenni Girtman

Credit: Jenni Girtman

What was once a collection of boarded-up buildings on Atlanta’s Westside is now a community of affordable apartments designed for people with ties to the area.

Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms and the Westside Future Fund nonprofit held a ribbon-cutting ceremony Wednesday at the organization’s newly renovated complex in the English Avenue neighborhood.

“This is what happens when you dream big,” Bottoms said at the event. She made housing a centerpiece of her 2017 mayoral campaign and has pledged to put $1 billion in public and private funds toward affordable housing.

The 31 units at 395 James P. Brawley Drive are priced at $950 for the one-bedroom units to $1,350 for three-bedrooms. If a tenant can’t afford those rents, they only need to pay what they can based on their income, and Atlanta Housing will subsidize the rest. Atlanta’s housing authority committed $2.13 million to the project over the next 20 years.

Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms, left, takes a quick tour of the Mincey family's new apartment with Nicole Mincey. (Jenni Girtman for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution)
Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms, left, takes a quick tour of the Mincey family's new apartment with Nicole Mincey. (Jenni Girtman for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

Credit: Jenni Girtman

Credit: Jenni Girtman

“It’s been a long road for me and my kids,” said Nicole Mincey, a new tenant the complex. “I don’t have to wander no more. I feel so good that my little ones have somewhere to play, call home.”

The property underwent a $5.5 million renovation after the Westside Future Fund, a nonprofit focused on community revitalization, bought it in 2017. The three two-story buildings have balconies, greenspace, on-site laundry, and Wi-Fi access, an upgrade from the old apartment complex, which was one of the largest in the neighborhood.

“I wish we had a picture next to us of what this looked like,” Bottoms said.

The mayor said she has fond memories of the area from when she was younger, including taking ballet classes at the former John F. Kennedy Middle School in Vine City.

Mayor Bottoms finishes her remarks at the ribbon-cutting event. (Jenni Girtman for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution)
Mayor Bottoms finishes her remarks at the ribbon-cutting event. (Jenni Girtman for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

Credit: Jenni Girtman

Credit: Jenni Girtman

The new community is part of the Westside Future Fund’s “Home on the Westside” initiative, which preserves affordable housing for people from Westside neighborhoods including English Avenue, Vine City, Ashview Heights and Atlanta University Center. The nonprofit, funded by public and private philanthropic sources, previously opened 150 affordable units and has more in the pipeline.

The Westside has historically suffered from a lack of public and private investment, but is now seeing a wave of new development that threatens to drive out longtime, low-income residents.

The median household income in English Avenue is about $24,000, but the typical rent in metro Atlanta is as high as $1,610 per month, according to Zillow.

“What I’ve learned, working on the Westside, is you have lots of hardworking families and individuals,” Westside Future Fund president and CEO John Ahmann said, “but they work for lower wages and they cant sometimes afford the market rents.”

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