Coronavirus pandemic sends affordable housing bond program to back burner
By Sean Keenan
Affordable housing advocates were overjoyed when Atlanta officials announced a bond program that would help boost the city’s affordable housing stock jumped from $100 million to $200 million.
Now, though, due to the economic damage caused by the coronavirus pandemic, the issuance of the bond has to be put on hold, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
The pandemic is projected to cost the city well over $200 million in lost revenue and other expenses over the next three years, the paper reported.
The bond issuance proposal was initially expected to go before the Atlanta City Council for a potential vote on Monday, although now the measure has been shoved to the back burner. It’s unclear when the council will revisit the measure.
The timing is less than ideal. As housing and legal scholars have said, the public health crisis has severely ramped up the need to produce and preserve affordable housing units in the city and beyond.
On March 24, the city council’s Community Development and Human Services committee approved the proposed bond program, which would have provided loans for multifamily and single-family developers to help them acquire and build affordable homes.
The program also would have allocated millions of dollars to help restore owner-occupied affordable units and to help people put down payments on homes.
For now, the future of Atlanta’s already daunting affordable housing crisis seems unclear.
“We had an affordable housing crisis going into this public health crisis, and we will certainly have one coming out of it,” said Sarah Kirsch, member of advocacy group HouseATL.
Now, she told SaportaReport, it’s up to public officials to find sources of public and private funding to ensure efforts to create and maintain affordable housing units don’t fall by the wayside.
(Header image, via Kelly Jordan: Atlanta City Hall)