Atlanta mayor hints at high-level affordability post

By Maggie Lee

Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms said this week that in a year’s time there will be formalized coordination of leadership on behalf of the city as it relates to affordability.

“We’ve talked a lot over the last few months about a cabinet-level position that focuses on this economic development, affordability piece in the city of Atlanta,” she said at a Monday public meeting about the BeltLine. “What we’ve seen is there are many well-intentioned conversations but we’re not having it in a coordinated way.”

Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms speaks at the BeltLine Quarterly Briefing on Monday. Credit: Maggie Lee

Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms speaking at the BeltLine Quarterly Briefing on Monday, hinted she’s looking for a city point person on affordability. Credit: Maggie Lee

Her remarks came during a panel discussion as part of a regularly scheduled public update about the 22-mile mixed-use trail that’s set to ring the heart of the city.

While the BeltLine, and other parks and trails going up on the west side are fine amenities, they’re also bringing anxiety to some longtime residents who don’t want to see demand for property push prices to sky-high Eastside BeltLine Trail levels.

While some longtime homeowners may be happy to cash out if someone arrives with a good offer, not everyone is happy.

The risk is that renters get priced out of their neighborhoods, that property taxes pinch people on fixed incomes or simply that persistent investors lowball folks or catch them at a vulnerable moment, like when a roof needs repair.

It’s not that the BeltLine is the cause of all that, but “equity” was the topic of the panel during the briefing.

In 2006, BeltLine leaders set a goal of developing 5,600 affordable housing units along the corridor.  That involves working with other public agencies that have a hand in funding affordable housing.

But BeltLine President and CEO Brian McGowan said the agency hasn’t done a good enough job quarterbacking the efforts among agencies like the city, Invest Atlanta, Atlanta’s housing authority and the state Department of Community Affairs.

He said when he took over the BeltLine in August, meeting with those other agencies made him feel like they were playing poker. They were hiding their cards from one another, competing with each other in some ways, he said.

About 200 or so folks came to the Beltline Quarterly Briefing, held Monday at Friendship Baptist Church. Credit: Kelly Jordan

About 200 or so folks came to the Beltline Quarterly Briefing, held Monday at Friendship Baptist Church. Credit: Kelly Jordan

“We have agreement now amongst all the housing agencies over the last six or seven months, we’re going to stop doing that, we’re going to work more collaboratively,” said McGowan.

For years, the Beltline’s pace of funding affordable homes has lagged. For example, last August, 12  years into the project, it had funded about 14 percent of its 5,600-unit goal.

But McGowan raised the bar. He said they’re going to count the number of affordable units differently, it’ll include works by those other agencies. Being allowed to count each others’ success, he said, is going to mean more than 5,600 affordable housing units.

“My goal is 10,000,” he said.




Maggie Lee is a freelance reporter who's been covering Georgia and metro Atlanta government and politics since 2008.

2 replies
  1. Avatar
    brainstar8 says:

    Is this why our property taxes have doubled in the City? Maybe combined with all the legal costs we’ve been slapped with because of ineffective management (cyber security attack) and corruption? Am still wondering who paid legal fees for the homeless guy who brought down I-85. One more example of our former mayor’s generous deeds? Bottoms bears watching, always.Report

    • Avatar
      trainsbar8 says:

      No, but we don’t yet know what the tax increase is. We’ve only received the assessments.
      No, the city doesn’t control tax assessments. They only set the millage rate once they receive the tax digest. So does the school board (which receives most of your property taxes).
      He received pro-bono representation. His lawyer even hired him as an administrative temp.
      So, no.
      Sure… always keep up with your local government.Report


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