In increasingly gentrified cities, residents are often at risk of losing their homes. In Atlanta, senior citizens who’ve lived in neighborhoods for decades are particularly at risk.
To mitigate this problem, the city is asking the Atlanta Board of Education and the Fulton County Board of Commissioners to work with them to create a tax relief program that would help senior residents stay in their neighborhoods.
Gentrification occurs when new investments and other changes to communities lifts property values, but also lifts property taxes and other costs to live there. The changes can force long-time residents out of neighborhoods.
Atlanta City Council passed a resolution Monday asking for the tax relief program. The proposed program would be aimed at any resident 65 or older, who has owned their property for at least 30 years and is current on their property taxes, according to the resolution.
The market value of the home must have tripled between the current and previous tax year for homeowners to be eligible. Details of how the program would help those that qualify must be worked out between the city, county and school officials.
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The council’s move comes six months after a study indicated displacement of residents is high in major U.S. cities such as Atlanta. In that study, by the National Community Reinvestment Coalition, Atlanta ranked seventh for the highest number of displaced black residents. The request also comes two months after a federal study ranked Atlanta the fourth fastest gentrifying U.S. city between 2000 and 2014.
A similar program has been created in Philadelphia called Longtime Owner Occupants Program, or LOOP. The program is looked at as a way to mitigate gentrification and avoid displacing older residents.
Invest Atlanta, the city’s development arm, already has a Heritage Owner-Occupied Rehab program that helps lower-income residents remain in their home by offering forgivable loans to make improvements to their homes. Priority is given to residents 55 or older, veterans, disabled head of households and those that have lived in their homes for at least 15 years.
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