HouseATL reconvenes, prepares for refined affordable housing strategy in 2023
By Natallie Keiser, executive director, HouseATL
By now, everyone has heard about, or personally experienced, Atlanta’s housing affordability crisis. While it’s always important to define a problem, continuously repeating dire statistics and stories can be an energy drain. We also have to look at our assets – what do we have to work with to address this? And, we need to celebrate progress, as it reminds us that we can indeed overcome challenges.
HouseATL’s recent reconvening on October 26th gave Atlantans an opportunity to celebrate affordable housing progress made since 2018. It also was a reminder of the HouseATL origin story and a platform to gather our assets for a refreshed strategic direction in 2023.
HouseATL originated as a coalition of the willing, with some visionary partners catalyzing people to come together from across sectors to examine our affordable housing challenge. Those convening entities had the foresight to make a table where a breadth of people could find a meaningful way to contribute. In 2018, that coalition put forth 23 recommendations – a call to action to all of Atlanta, but in particular to our civic leadership. In 2019, HouseATL organized itself into working groups to advance some of those 23 recommendations.
HouseATL had barely begun implementation when the pandemic hit, but the network that we had built positioned us to respond. During the pandemic, HouseATL’s members pivoted to address the changing housing needs of Atlantans. Members maintained trust and goodwill under stress as people tried to figure out new mechanisms to scale rental assistance, protect vulnerable residents and recommend effective uses of new federal funds.
As HouseATL looks to the future, we recognize that the housing market has changed dramatically. It has been disrupted not only by the pandemic and its related supply chain and labor challenges, but also by technological advances, capital market shifts and interest rate hikes. And, Atlanta’s population has continued to grow. We need to refresh and refine our strategic recommendations for Atlanta with this context, which we plan to do in 2023.
To gather our assets for this strategic work, we are formalizing our membership structure and creating clear pathways to leadership, while adhering firmly to our guiding principles. Our Board will be adding members based on assessment of needs. Our fiscal sponsor, the Community Foundation for Greater Atlanta, is helping to firm up our back office operations. While strengthening our organizational structure, we are also staying open to opportunities, such as being a partner in the new multi-year WORTH initiative to address the racial wealth gap through homeownership.
Atlanta is very rich in “housers”, people with passion, lived experience, expertise and/or leadership skills in affordable housing. We can even include our own Mayor in that category. We also have a wealth of organizations contributing to solutions, from grassroots organizers to private developers to foundations. We also have people from across various sectors who want to contribute, from health care to transit. HouseATL aims to continue to be a broad-based platform providing for coordination among all these assets as we work together to advance strategic recommendations that will create a more inclusive, thriving Atlanta. Join us! To learn more, visit https://houseatl.org/.