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Sustainable Communities Thought Leadership

New Year, New Opportunities for Impact

Georgia Capitol. (Photo by Kelly Jordan)

By: Kandice Allen Mitchell

The City of Atlanta Welcomes a New Administration

On January 3, 2022, Atlanta welcomed its 61st mayor, Andre Dickens, a two-term council member and native son who promises to “usher in a new day” for the city to which he was born and raised. Over the course of his campaign, Mayor Dickens promised voters that he would make housing affordability a top priority. 

Known by Atlanta’s housing community as one of local government’s key housing champions for his leadership on the city’s inclusionary zoning policies impacting rapidly gentrifying neighborhoods along the Beltline, many saw Dickens’ election as a win for affordable housing.

Mayor Dickens shared his plan for housing in his campaign agenda which comports with the city’s One Atlanta Housing Affordability Action Plan. The mayor has committed to developing or preserving 20,000 homes over the next 8 years. Part of that development strategy includes anti-displacement policies like property tax freezes for seniors and tax abatements that incentivize affordable development in high opportunity areas. 

Shortly after his inauguration, Mayor Dickens introduced his leadership team which includes former Atlanta Habitat for Humanity President and CEO, Lisa Gordon, whose leadership on the $25 million Browns Mill Village development produced 150 new affordable homes in the city.

Among other cabinet members is Courtney English who joins as Mayor Dickens’ senior advisor. English has previously served as the Atlanta Board of Education chair and, most recently, as the director of Community Development for Star-C, an organization focused on improving student outcomes by keeping families stably housed.

Some early considerations for the Dickens administration will center recovery but must also build on permanent housing solutions. The administration must prioritize the stability of vulnerable communities as pandemic-related economic shifts continue to strain residents at risk of eviction and income loss. 

There are many opportunities for this administration to build current policy wins that dedicate city revenue to affordable housing solutions, leverage city-owned land for affordable housing, create tax subsidies in local Urban Enterprise Zones, and optimize the city’s housing opportunity bond. With a focus on neighborhood investment, the new administration can improve outcomes for communities across the city.

2022 Georgia Housing Day at the Capitol

Georgia Advancing Communities Together (Georgia ACT) will host its annual Housing Day at the Capitol on February 23, 2022. The Housing Day program will be virtual in the interest of participant safety and runs from 10 a.m. until 12:30 p.m. ET. 

This year’s theme will focus on ways to create more resilient communities in Georgia and features speakers ranging from state law makers to housing experts at the federal and state levels. Georgia ACT has also provided an opportunity to learn how to become a better advocate on housing issues in a pre-Housing Day advocacy webinar training on February 9, 2022. 

You can register for both events here.

Ahead of Housing Day, Enterprise Community Partners and other housing advocates across the state will share briefings on specific bills that impact housing so that advocates can learn more. For example, House Bill 408 (HB 408) is a high priority bill that has been carried over from the 2021 session. HB 408 aims to provide critical protection and cost savings to tenants and property owners ahead of eviction filings.

HB 408 would require that property owners provide 7-day written notice to tenants with the right for residents to remedy nonpayment before the eviction is filed with the courts. This change would bring Georgia in line with the 40 other states across the country with similar protections in place, saving both property owners and residents from unnecessary fees associated with court costs within the notice period.

Enterprise will continue to feature housing policies presented during the legislative session. You can stay engaged by connecting to the Enterprise Southeast website for up-to-date blogs posts and information sharing on critical issues facing our region.

 

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