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Atlanta to raise millions to help Westside residents stay in homes

The city of Atlanta and a philanthropic organization dedicated to improving the lives of citizens in some of the poorest communities in Georgia’s capitol are joining forces to help residents in four Westside neighborhoods -- including Vine City and English Avenue -- stay in their homes as gentrification approaches.

Mayor Kasim Reed on Wednesday unveiled an Anti-Displacement Tax Fund that will raise as much as $5 million in private dollars to help residents pay what is expected to be increases in taxes as the area becomes more attractive to developers. In addition to Vine City and English Avenue, the impacted area also includes Ashview Heights and Atlanta University Center.

Westside Future Fund  -- an initiative created by Reed and the Atlanta Committee for Progress -- will lead the effort, seeking donations from the corporate community. No tax dollars are expected to be used.

“Through this private sector initiative, the Westside Future Fund is raising philanthropic dollars that will cover tax increases for vulnerable residents to keep them from being priced out of the neighborhoods that they have called home for years,” Reed said.

John Ahmann, executive director of Westside Future Fund, said the program could span as long as the next 15 to 20 years. He said the idea is to make sure that disadvantaged neighborhoods get to share in the city’s prosperity.

“This program means that working folks will be able to maintain and live in the communities that they love,” Reed said.

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