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Sustainable Communities Thought Leadership

ULI Atlanta – HouseATL Case Studies Continue to Focus on Importance of Affordable Housing

By: Daphne Bond-Godfrey, Director, ULI Atlanta

If knowledge is power, or so the saying goes – then HouseATL’s charge to ‘demystify affordable housing’ has never been more important. In the midst of a global pandemic, there should be no doubt left that safe, stable, and affordable housing is bedrock to our communities. The power of an address is front and center. To meet the need for housing that is affordable to existing and future Atlantans, we need a robust sector of non-profit and for-profit developers as well as all of the key partners who make these communities possible. 

Through the work of HouseATL, ULI Atlanta has helped develop case studies to make the affordable housing subject matter less complicated and to arm real estate practitioners, policymakers, and other professionals with the best-case examples of how affordable housing is developed and preserved so that it can be emulated and scaled across our region. 

In November 2020, ULI Atlanta and HouseATL released two case studies that helped highlight the power of collaboration to execute this mission.

The first, a case study on Atlanta Land Trust (ALT) and Georgia Trust for Historic Preservation (the Trust) demonstrated a unique partnership resulting from complementary yet aligned missions to preserve homes along a portion of Atlanta’s BeltLine. This partnership culminated in the West Atlanta Preservation Initiative, and subsequent preservation of 1575 Mozley Place & 1138 Harwell Street Atlanta, GA 30314. 

The second case study on Mercy Park highlights another partnership between Mercy Care and Mercy Housing, two independent organizations that came together to advance their shared and complementary missions around affordability and healthcare. Mercy Park represents a creative approach to mission-based, not-for-profit development on a four-acre site with a 45,000 square foot Mercy Care health clinic, and a 79-unit senior housing development for seniors over the age of 62.

The next two case studies focus on preservation and comprehensive community investment as key strategies to mitigate displacement and provide affordable and workforce housing in rapidly gentrifying parts of the City of Atlanta. 

  • Quest Commons West is an excellent example of delivering impactful affordable housing to Atlanta’s Westside community. The Quest Communities team is committed to equitable housing and community development principles. Quest Commons West project embodies its mission while maintaining affordability for households at or below 60% area median income (AMI), a critical but often challenging threshold to meet. Additionally, the project will participate in Quest’s Healthy Housing Initiative, including onsite health screenings, case management, and a community gardening program. See the case study here. 
  • Capitol View Apartments in Atlanta’s Adair Park neighborhood demonstrates the best of collaboration, preservation and coordination of public and private partners to advance affordable housing goals.  Columbia Residential, through long-standing relationships with Enterprise Community Partners, the Annie E. Casey Foundation, Invest Atlanta, and the Georgia Department of Community Affairs was able to acquire the property in August 2018, and is redeveloping it with a targeted completion date of August 2021. Honoring a promise to not displace current residents, 64 of the 120 units remain occupied during construction. In total, the redevelopment will bring 120 affordable, fully renovated units to a historic SW Atlanta community, which includes 24 supportive housing units for very low-income residents. See the case study here.

All case studies to date were developed through a unique partnership with ULI Atlanta – HouseATL and GA Tech’s Master’s in Real Estate Development (MRED) program. MRED graduate students acted as technical writers to research and develop these case studies and we are grateful for their time and commitment to executing this important task. 

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HouseATL is an open taskforce initiated through the convening power and resources of ULI Atlanta, The Arthur M. Blank Family Foundation, Central Atlanta Progress, Center for Civic Innovation, and Metro Atlanta Chamber of Commerce. Since January 2018, these partners have engaged more than 200 civic leaders to develop and help advance 23 recommendations to invest $1B in affordable housing over 8 – 10 years, producing and preserving 20,000 affordable units. The City of Atlanta adopted the key pillars of HouseATL’s platform in June 2019, resulting in the One Atlanta Housing Affordability Action Plan. HouseATL’s work continues today recognizing that we will only be successful in addressing affordability if we work in more coordinated and collaborative ways – within sectors and across sectors.

 

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