By Meaghan Shannon-Vlkovic, VP & Market Leader, Enterprise Community Partners
The average life expectancy for a person in the Margaret Mitchell area of Buckhead is 25 years longer than that of someone in Bankhead on Atlanta’s west side, less than 10 miles away. Many factors contribute to that statistic, but chief among them is the fact that the communities we live in play a major role in determining our outcomes in life.
The gaps in equity and opportunity in Atlanta are wide, and they didn’t develop overnight. A long history of racist housing policies, such as redlining and block busting, created stark racial and socioeconomic inequalities, driving abundant resources to help white neighborhoods flourish and directing investment and opportunity away from Black communities.
At Enterprise Community Partners, we believe that a person’s home and community should be places of pride, power and belonging, and essential platforms to protect and nurture one’s life and livelihood.
Enterprise is a national affordable housing nonprofit that addresses America’s affordable housing crisis from every angle. We develop and deploy programs and support community organizations on the ground; we advocate for policy on a nonpartisan basis at every level of government; we invest capital to build and preserve rental homes people can afford; and we own and operate 13,000 affordable homes and provide resident services for 22,000 people—all so that people not only make rent, they build futures. We have 40 years of experience and thousands of local partners. We have worked in Atlanta for more than 27 years and invested more than $1.9 billion across the Southeast.
Enterprise is focused on dismantling the enduring legacy of systemic racism in housing – a legacy that has prevented generations of Atlanta’s Black and Brown families from accessing safe, affordable homes and the same kinds of opportunities to achieve upward mobility as white Atlantans in affluent neighborhoods.
It takes intentionality, persistence, and innovation to disrupt and reorient the systems that drive and govern how communities develop. Our approach considers the key drivers of housing in a community – capital, policy, and development.
Enterprise secures and deploys a variety of flexible investments to develop and preserve affordable homes in communities across the region. Our programs help housing developers, service providers, and residents withstand climate and economic challenges that threaten those homes. Through advocacy, we educate policymakers and shape measures that prioritize and direct government resources toward economic growth in historically disinvested communities and the people who have lived there for generations. And all of our work is made possible and strengthened through collaboration and listening directly to the needs of the communities in which we work.
As a partner in HouseATL, Enterprise is leading the Funders Collective, which is one example of our efforts. This collaborative of pubic, private and philanthropic partners recognized that the mechanisms for connecting investment capital with affordable housing developments were siloed and not always reaching projects or communities with the greatest need. Aligning with the City’s One Atlanta: Housing Affordability Action Plan, HouseATL reimagined a way to bring together all the parties involved, developed shared priorities and created a process for coordinated project review and access to available investment streams.
The result: capital reaches developments faster through coordination, projects are better prioritized among funders, and we are maximizing partnerships and investment in our communities.
Enterprise envisions a country where home and community are steppingstone to more – where opportunity is abundant for those who seek the promise of a better life now and for generations to come.
Working with partners and communities in Atlanta and across the Southeast, we’ll strive to meet that vision.
To learn more about the work Enterprise is doing in Atlanta and the Southeast, please visit www.EnterpriseCommunity.org.