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By Sean Keenan

This week, the Atlanta Neighborhood Development Partnership (ANDP) launched an ambitious initiative aimed at building and preserving 2,000 affordable homes by 2025. 

The so-called “Closing the Gap” program endeavors to develop or rehabilitate 250 single-family rentals, 500 for-sale houses and 1,250 apartments across the Atlanta metro, a balance that focuses not just on sheltering people but also helping them build wealth, ANDP president and CEO John O’Callahan told SaportaReport in an interview. 

The new effort will concentrate on metro Atlanta’s most vulnerable, predominantly Black neighborhoods, O’Callahan said.

“The decline in Black homeownership contributes more than any other issue to the growing wealth gap between Blacks and whites, as housing is the primary asset of middle-income families,” according to ANDP materials. “The median wealth of white households ($171,000) is ten times higher than that of Black households ($17,000).” 

Additionally, the importance of focusing on low-income Black communities is amplified by the COVID-19 pandemic’s impact in such areas, O’Callahan said.

All said, the initiative represents a potentially $438 million investment, with the Joseph B. Whitehead Foundation, part of the Robert W. Woodruff family of charitable foundations, providing the first $5 million grant to kick things off. 

More than 80 percent of those funds have been identified by way of low-cost enterprise capital, competitive Federal program dollars, local and state resources, social impact investing and other bank debt sources, according to an ANDP press release.

The initiative’s homeownership units are expected to be priced as affordable for households earning up to 120 percent of the area median income (AMI), although O’Callahan said there will be a “special focus on [people earning] below 80 percent AMI” and a “small smattering” of houses priced for families earning less than 50 percent of the AMI.

The rentals, he said, will be affordable for households earning as low as 30 percent of the AMI.

The first of these 2,000 units are expected to come online soon at the Creekside at Adamsville apartment complex, which is currently leasing units priced for households earning 30, 50 and 80 percent of the AMI.

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