APN Editor Submits Questions to Beltline Inc. via CD/HR Cmte (UPDATE 1)

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UPDATE: Beltline CEO Brian Leary confirms receipt of questions; I also sent the questions to him.

Today, I, as the News Editor of Atlanta Progressive News and as a citizen, presented a three-page series of written questions regarding the Beltline and affordable housing, to the CD/HR Cmte of the City Council of Atlanta.  Previously, Ben Howard and I had asked questions of Beltline Inc. at a November 2010 CD/HR Cmte.  Ben’s questions were in writing and he was told he would receive an answer in two weeks; that has not happened.  I was asked to put my questions in writing which I had already presented verbally.  The questions are listed below:

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QUESTIONS FROM MATTHEW CARDINALE POSED TO BELTLINE INC. AT CD/HR CMTE MEETINGS ON JUNE 15, 2010 AND NOVEMBER 09, 2010; AND NEW QUESTIONS RESULTING FROM BELTLINE‘S NOVEMBER 09 POWERPOINT PRESENTATION

BACKGROUND:

At the Beltline’s June 2010 Quarterly presentation to the Community Development/Human Resources committee of the Council, I raised concerns in public remarks, and Beltline CEO Brian Leary proposed a response at the next quarterly presentation.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8qi81WDre2k

However, at their September 2010 presentation, the Beltline failed to even address the issues. I then reminded the Committee, and Chairwoman Joyce Sheperd (District 12) later said the Beltline would be coming back to specifically address the issues.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iJmiSyByj8g

At the Tuesday, November 09, 2010, CD/HR meeting, the Beltline did come back to give a Powerpoint presentation, “Atlanta Beltline Affordable Housing Trust Fund.”

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UlRYRR-Tj28

The presentation did not address all the questions asked in June, and new questions arose as a result of the presentation. Unresolved questions are listed below:

QUESTIONS:

(1) Why did the Beltline oppose the original BAHAB recommendation which was to require 10 percent of affordable housing units in BAHTF-funded multi-family developmentsat 30 percent AMI (extremely low-income families)?

(2) Specifically, Beltline and ADA has previously told me, that Mr. James Alexander conducted a Powerpoint presentation for BAHAB which allegedly proved that the 30 percent AMI requirementwould be cost prohibitive to developers. The presentation allegedly ran through various scenarios, plugging in figures for different variables. I’ve asked them to provide me with the figures they used and give us actual numbers to show how it allegedly cannot be done. But they said there was no way to explain it over the phonewithout the Powerpoint presentation… Therefore, is it possible that in Beltline’s next quarterly report, they can run through this Powerpoint with CD/HR for thebenefit of the public?

(3) Can the BAHAB recommendations be revisited?

(4) Can BAHAB come before CD/HR and give their own update? They are supposed to monitor the progress of the BAHTF towards the BAHAB recommendations as approved by Council. What is BAHAB’s view on Beltline’s progress or lack thereof? Is BAHAB satisfied with its final recommendations, as modified by Beltline and ADA?

(5) Beltline’s Powerpoint to CD/HR had said that 53 percent of the units funded through BAHTF-approved projects would be affordable at 30 percent AMI. Can they specify which units? ie- which developments, how many per development, and what price points?

(6) Phoenix House. The Powerpoint identifies Phoenix House as one of the projects for which funds have been committed. Kate Little of BAHAB told me that according toher notes, at the August 2010 BAHAB meeting, the Board was told that 69 new rental units would be produced or refurbished at Phoenix House, with only 21 of them affordable at 30 percent AMI. However, Ethan Davidson, Beltline spokesman, told me all 69 of the units would be affordable at 30 percent AMI. Which is true? Can you account for the discrepancy? What type of project is this overall – a new building, refurbishing, some type of independent living program? Where located inthe City?

(7) Downpayment assistance program. James Alexander said that two downpayment assistance cases were for mortgages affordable to families at 30 percent AMI. Whatare the monthly payments of these mortgages? What percentage of these families’ incomes does this represent? If more than 30 percent of their income, how is it not deceptive to say these are affordable at 30% AMI, when affordability is premised on not spending more than 30% of one’s income on housing?

(8) Can such a breakdown be provided for units available at other income categories for all approved BAHTF projects? ie- which developments, how many per development, and what price points?

(9) BAHAB also made several recommendations for displacement mitigation, taking into account gentrification. What progress has Beltline Inc made on any of theserecommendations? Or on any additional measures to mitigate displacement? (Please respond for all 7 recommendations listed below.)

1. The City of Atlanta should adopt a mandatory inclusionary zoning ordinance.

2. Atlanta communities or the City of Atlanta should create one or more community land trusts.

3. The City of Atlanta and the State of Georgia should prioritize preserving existing subsidized housing.

4. The City of Atlanta and the State Georgia should create a permanent source of revenue to preserve affordable housing such as a real estate transfer tax orcommercial linkage fees.

5. The City of Atlanta/Atlanta Beltline Inc./ BeltLine Partnership should engage in a broad and sustained educational campaign to inform residents of existinggovernment programs available to assist over‐burdened households experiencing increased taxes or in need of increased financial literacy.

6. The City of Atlanta and Fulton County should enact property tax reform protecting target populations in revitalizing neighborhoods from over‐burdensome propertytaxes due to gentrification or revitalization.

7. The City of Atlanta and the State of Georgia should adopt just cause eviction control legislation that would give renters some protection from displacement due torapidly rising rents.

(10) “An educational campaign about existing government programs to assist at-risk residents.” – Beltline representative stated that an intern had created a brochure to address this issue, at the CD/HR meeting on November 09, 2010. I already requested a copy of this brochure and reiterate that request. Can Beltline provide this?

(11) Downpayment assistance program. How is this any different from the downpayment assistance program already being offered by the ADA. Does this replace that program? Is this duplicative of that program? Does this really create new affordable housing or it this just another name and funding source for affordable housingthat would have been already created through the ADA program?

(END)

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