Atlanta Housing Authority Changing Course as Affordable Housing Problems Grow

Housing costs are rising in Atlanta, while available affordable housing has decreased. The Atlanta Housing Authority needs to ramp up construction after a lull in development.
November 19, 2018, 7am PST | Camille Fink
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Max Blau reports that Atlanta doesn’t have the affordable housing it needs, and the Atlanta Housing Authority now finds itself playing catch-up after not building new units for a number of years.

“From 2009 to 2016, the city permitted the construction of more than 25,000 new luxury apartments. But nearly all of Atlanta Housing’s 400-plus acres of undeveloped property stayed vacant,” says Blau. After the Great Recession, then-mayor Kasim Reed tangled with Renee Glover, head of the authority, and construction was delayed.

In 2016, the authority proposed Herndon Square, a mixed-use, mixed-income redevelopment project. Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms, who took office this year, has pledged to put $1 billion into affordable housing.

Observers say the Atlanta Housing Authority is part of a larger affordable housing crisis in the city, but it is integral to closing the gap. “Georgia State sociology professor Deirdre Oakley believes the authority must get back to building—and fast. The longer the authority waits, she says, the more responsibility it holds for the lack of rentals for low-income residents,” reports Blau.

Blau also notes that the authority did start taking steps to address affordable housing:

Before she [Bottoms] took office, the Atlanta Housing board had already passed a policy to prioritize helping people who live in census tracts where new development threatens to displace them, including in neighborhoods adjacent to the BeltLine like West End, Pittsburgh, and Reynoldstown. Authority officials have also looked into acquiring or investing in affordable housing units currently operated by MARTA and the BeltLine.

In addition to the Herndon Square project, slated for completion in 2021, the authority has three other projects planned, including a redevelopment project at the Civic Center.

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