By Hannah E. Jones
“Habitat provides a simple but powerful avenue for people of different backgrounds to come together to achieve those most meaningful things in life,” Former President Jimmy Carter said. “A decent home, yes, but also a genuine bond with our fellow human beings. A bond that comes with the building up of walls and the breaking down of barriers.”
On Friday, Aug. 11, city leaders and affordable housing advocates gathered for a groundbreaking in Atlanta’s Browns Mill Village. The event was hosted by Atlanta Habitat For Humanity and Wells Fargo, which are partnering to build six affordable homes in the new subdivision.
Browns Mill Village is a mixed-income community built primarily by Atlanta Habitat and Cityscape Housing. The teams broke ground in Nov. 2021. Plans for the new subdivision include 134 homes on 31.4 acres, situated less than five miles from downtown.
Atlanta Habitat will build 75 of the units, which will be available for families at or below 80 percent area median income. Five of the lots are earmarked for police officers through the Atlanta Police Foundation. The remaining 70 homes are reserved for participants in its First-Time Homebuyer Program, which helps residents build and buy an affordable and energy-efficient home.
“Affordable homeownership is a beautiful thing,” Atlanta Habitat President and CEO Alan Ferguson said. “Having the opportunity to really transform someone’s life, the lives of their children, and how they [interact] with their community — it really uplifts us and our city.”
Resident Raven Thomas took the stage to paint a picture of Habitat’s impact. As a mother of a young child, Habitat’s services have proved transformational for her.
“I am going to be living in this beautiful community. It took a lot of hard work — we have to do 250 hours of sweat equity, meaning we have to do community service and build other people’s homes,” Thomas said. “And it’s not just about getting a home. They have wraparound services to make you and your kids thrive. They have savings accounts for your children. I mean, I have a six-year-old kid. He didn’t have a savings account but he does now. Information changes situations. If it wasn’t for Habitat and their partnerships with everyone in the community, my home wouldn’t be thriving the way that it is right now.”
In addition to the single and two-story homes, the Browns Mill community features greenspace, a community garden and recreation areas. It’s also right next door to Humphries Elementary School, now in its third year. The Atlanta Public School Board of Education recently approved a rezoning that will automatically enroll eligible Browns Mill tenants as students at the school.
During the ceremony, the team also unveiled the new name for School House Road — Carter Way. The new street name honors former President Jimmy Carter and First Lady Rosalynn as longtime champions of Habitat’s mission. Over the years, the presidential couple has worked on 4,390 homes in 14 countries.
“The reason [my grandparents were] so passionate about Habitat was because it wasn’t just about building houses,” said Joshua Carter, Jimmy and Rosalynn’s grandson. “It was getting everybody to work together and recognize the goal of homeownership, building wealth and having a community. My grandparents came from a community of 600 people. They’ve always loved small communities and they’ve believed that small communities can change the world and will. I know this place will, too.”
For more information about Browns Mill Village, click here.
Click through the slideshow below for snapshots of the groundbreaking ceremony. Photos by Kelly Jordan.