New Atlanta committee chair to focus on affordable housing, mobility

9/13/18 - Atlanta - Matt Westmoreland confers with Jennifer Ide as Atlanta city council members attended a committee work session to study the Gulch deal. Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms faces a big test yet of her tenure as mayor with a pending vote to approve a massive public subsidy to redevelop downtown’s Gulch. The up to $5 billion project, which could include $2 billion in public financing, will require Bottoms to convince the council that the skyline-altering project is worth the public investment. BOB ANDRES /BANDRES@AJC.COM

9/13/18 - Atlanta - Matt Westmoreland confers with Jennifer Ide as Atlanta city council members attended a committee work session to study the Gulch deal. Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms faces a big test yet of her tenure as mayor with a pending vote to approve a massive public subsidy to redevelop downtown’s Gulch. The up to $5 billion project, which could include $2 billion in public financing, will require Bottoms to convince the council that the skyline-altering project is worth the public investment. BOB ANDRES /BANDRES@AJC.COM

The new chairman of the Atlanta City Council committee charged with overseeing development and job growth established a set of goals for 2020 on Tuesday that are aimed at addressing the city's two most pressing issues: a lack of affordable housing and economic mobility.

This year, City Council President Felicia Moore named first-term Councilman Matt Westmoreland to be the chair of the council’s Community Development and Human Services Committee.

Despite metro Atlanta having the nation's fourth highest population growth from 2017 to 2018, the city itself consistently ranks among the worst in terms of economic equality and mobility.

And according to the most recent figures from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development nearly half of low-income renters in metro Atlanta with the "worst case needs" receive no government assistance. That figure is the sixth highest percentage in the nation.

“Worst case needs” renters are those who pay more than one-half of their income for rent, live in severely inadequate conditions, or both, according to HUD.

Among Westmoreland’s proposals would be to require landlords receiving city subsidies, including tax abatements, to accept vouchers from the city’s housing authority.

Landlords often decline to accept government vouchers for fear that it will hurt the reputation and value of their properties.

Westmoreland is also calling for Invest Atlanta to adopt a metrics driven economic development strategy “that urgently addresses community-focused development, the attraction and creation of middle-wage jobs in under-served areas.”

Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms has also made affordable housing a key emphasis of her administration.

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