Affordable homes along Atlanta BeltLine: A different perspective on the number built

By David Pendered

The Atlanta BeltLine would be almost halfway to its goal of creating 5,600 affordable homes if it could count all the affordable homes that were subsidized by a government and built within a mile-wide corridor centered on the BeltLine, the BeltLine’s interim CEO told members of an Atlanta City Council committee Tuesday.

Atlanta BeltLine, affordable housing, graphic

The Atlanta BeltLine has created nearly three times the number of affordable homes as previously reported, if the count includes homes subsidized by other governmental entities in a mile-wide corridor with the BeltLine at the center. Credit: beltline.org

Clyde Higgs, the interim CEO, said some 2,600 affordable units have been created within a half-mile of the BeltLine. Higgs cited the figure during a quarterly report he presented from the BeltLine to the council committee charged with its oversight, the Community Development/Human Services Committee.

A segment of Higgs’ remarks focused on final report issued this month by the BeltLine’s Affordable Housing Working Group, described as a “blue-ribbon panel of affordable housing experts from the public, private and non-profit sectors.”

The panel’s mission was to provide recommendations to the BeltLine to enable it to meet the goal of creating 5,600 affordable homes by 2030. The goal was established by the city council when it created a funding mechanism for the BeltLine’s public amenities – trails, public art, affordable housing, and so forth.

“One item that came out is our counting methodology,” Higgs said of the working group’s discussions.

Until recently, the counting methodology used only those affordable homes that met the criteria of the city’s legislation.

The legislation set a goal of 5,600 affordable units that are to be funded with 15 percent of the total amount of bonds sold to pay for public amenities. These bonds are to be repaid from tax revenues collected on projects built since 2006 in the BeltLine’s tax allocation district, according to an annual report by the BeltLine Affordable Housing Advisory Board.

Atlanta BeltLine, TAD, planning area, map

The Atlanta BeltLine’s goal is to create 5,600 affordable homes in the area marked in orange on the map. The number of affordable homes credited to the BeltLine would be higher if the count includes the gray area, which spans a half-mile from each side of the BeltLine. Credit: beltline.org

In July, former BeltLine CEO Brian McGowan said the BeltLine would start counting affordable homes built in the tax district that were subsidized by other governments – Atlanta Housing Authority and the Georgia Department of Community Affairs, according to a report by the Atlanta radio station WABE.

This raised the number of affordable homes built in the BeltLine TAD to 1,600. Of these units, 901 were subsidized by either the BeltLine or its parent, Invest Atlanta, the city’s development arm. The other 601 affordable units were subsidized by the Atlanta Housing Authority or the Georgia Department of Community Affairs, according to the working group’s final report.

The working group took McGowan’s position a step further.

It counted all the affordable homes built with government subsidies that were built within a half-mile of the BeltLine transit corridor. This much larger area is the BeltLine Planning Area and 1,042 affordable units have been built. Of these, 487 units were subsidized by the BeltLine or Invest Atlanta. The remaining 555 affordable units were subsidized by the Atlanta Housing Authority or Department of Community Affairs, according to the report.

The report concludes:

  • “The incredible opportunity to create and preserve affordable housing throughout the footprint of the Atlanta BeltLine Tax Allocation District and Planning Area requires proactive and strategic public and private partnerships. These partnerships will help ensure the availability of housing opportunities for affordable and workforce families.
  • “The ABI Affordable Housing Working Group Final Report provides a clear framework to help ABI fulfill its goal of creating or preserving a minimum of 5,600 units within the TAD and an additional, still to be determined, number of affordable units in the broader BeltLine Planning Area.”

 

 

 

Clyde Higgs

Clyde Higgs

 

David Pendered, Managing Editor, is an Atlanta journalist with more than 30 years experience reporting on the region’s urban affairs, from Atlanta City Hall to the state Capitol. Since 2008, he has written for print and digital publications, and advised on media and governmental affairs. Previously, he spent more than 26 years with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution and won awards for his coverage of schools and urban development. David graduated from North Carolina State University and was a Western Knight Center Fellow. David was born in Pennsylvania, grew up in North Carolina and is married to a fifth-generation Atlantan.

4 replies
  1. Carrie Salvary says:

    The Atlanta Beltline promised in a community benefits agreement to provide 5600 units of affordable housing along the Beltline. They ignored this promise during the initial years of the Beltline’s success. The success of the Beltline has created a dearth in affordable housing, the Beltline has not produced it’s promised units, now they are trying the Jedi mind trick to convenience us that all housing created using other produced by other entities should count toward their goal.

    This should not be an acceptable solution. The Beltline should own up to it’s responsibility by producing and providing the 5600 units of affordable housing.Report

    Reply
  2. Chris Johnston says:

    Bravo! Atlanta Beltline is using the same failed tactic that City Hall used to justify the Streetcar. Reed and company claimed that every improvement along the Streetcar’s route was due to the Streetcar alone.
    This tactic was discredited then and will be discredited now.Report

    Reply
  3. atlman says:

    The streetcar helped attract nearly a billion doolars in private development and brought a ton of new high-income residents to condos and apartments plus not a few business relocation sites that were constructed to be near it. But hey, people like you who believe that urban government is a failure for partisan reasons will never acknowledge stuff like that.Report

    Reply

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