By Maggie Lee
Reuben Brooks, previously a U.S. Department of House and Urban Development leader in the southeast, is joining the BeltLine as chief operating officer.
In his previous post, Brooks headed the HUD southeast region’s office in charge of multifamily housing, according to a press release from Atlanta BeltLine, Inc.
BeltLine leaders have in the past two or so years made efforts to put affordable housing goals higher on the agenda, including by hiring a vice president in charge of housing policy and development. Affordable housing creation or preservation has always been part of the BeltLine’s mandate, but got new attention especially after 2017 reporting by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution highlighted how far the BeltLine was behind its target of 5,600 affordable housing units.
Yet it’s difficult to preserve or create lower-priced housing along the popular trail because property values rise faster along the trail than in other parts of the city. It’s not just a feeling; research measures it too.
The BeltLine estimates there were some 2,682 “workforce units” created as of April this year, counting all units created within “walking distance” of the trail, funded by any or all of a number of public agencies.
“Workforce units” typically means affordable to, say, a family headed by a young teacher or firefighter — someone who can make $1,300 or so rent per month without stretching their budget dangerously far.
The COO post became vacant when Clyde Higgs moved up from that office to that of BeltLine president and CEO earlier this year.
The BeltLine also announced it has hired Aasia Mustakeem as general counsel. She was most recently a partner at Smith, Gambrell & Russell where she focused on representing developers, investors and owners of commercial real estate in a range of transactions.