Beltline to Clarify Statement to Council Cmte, BAHAB to Give Update

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(APN) ATLANTA — At the Tuesday, March 29, 2011 meeting of the Community Development/Human Resources Cmte of the City Council of Atlanta, Council Members Natalyn Archibong (District 5) and Michael Julian Bond (Post 1-at-large) requested that Atlanta Beltline, Inc., come to the Cmte to clarify their statement regarding the original BAHAB recommendations; and that BAHAB, the Beltline Affordable Housing Advisory Board, come before the Cmte to give an update.

Atlanta Progressive News had asked a series of questions to the Beltline regarding affordable housing via the CD/HR Cmte.  Upon receipt of the Beltline’s answers, APN raised a question regarding the accuracy of their statement in response to question number one.

The question was: “(1) Why did the Beltline oppose the original BAHAB recommendation which was to require 10 percent of affordable housing in BAHTF-funded multi-family developments at 30 percent of AMI (extremely low-income families)?” [AMI refers to Area Median Income.]

BAHAB is made up of representatives of the City of Atlanta, Fulton County, and Atlanta Public Schools, and was charged with recommending how to spend the proceeds from the BAHTF.

BAHAB is also tasked with monitoring the progress of the Trust Fund and possibly revisiting their recommendations.  To date, the Trust Fund has only funded downpayment assistance on two homes, and even then, there are questions about whether those families have been housing cost burdened.

While funds have also been committed to the City Hall East redevelopment, the Council approved a significant deviation from even the minimal, existing affordable housing requirements for this tax-payer subsidized project.

Fifteen percent of all bond proceeds from the Beltline Tax Allocation Districts are supposed to go to the Trust Fund to support affordable housing.

In response to question number one, “Originally, BAHAB, did not recommend the requirement referenced in the question above,” the Beltline wrote.

However, according to the original document, “Beltline Affordable Housing Advisory Board Affordable Housing Trust Fund Recommendations” obtained by APN, BAHAB did in fact make the recommendation on page four.

“BAHAB recommends a commitment to households at 30% of AMI (households just above the minimum wage) through a requirement that 10% of the affordable units built be targeted to households at or below 30% of AMI,” BAHAB wrote in its original recommendations.

APN advised the Cmte of the apparent inaccurate statement by the Beltline at the February 15, 2011, CD/HR meeting.

Then, at the March 2011 Quarterly Briefing of the Beltline before the CD/HR Cmte, on March 01, 2011, the Beltline made a presentation but did not address the issue.

After the Beltline’s presentation, Chairwoman Joyce Sheperd (District 12) opened up the meeting to public comment on the presentation.

When asked when Sheperd would address the Beltline’s answers, “We, I have looked at those questions.  We’re satisfied, the Cmte is satisfied with the answers to those questions.  We have no other comments in reference to those questions,” Sheperd replied.

However, two Councilmembers, Archibong and Bond, later told APN that they did not participate in a decision that the Cmte was satisfied.

On March 15, 2011, with Sheperd out of town, Councilman Alex Wan (District 6) served as Vice Chair, stating that he did not know whether a decision had actually been made by the Cmte.

When asked on March 29 whether it was the Cmte’s decision or actually just Sheperd’s personal decision, she replied: “Mr. Cardinale, we are finished with this discussion.  I am not going to have anything, you can ask any questions that you want, you can make any comments you want, but we’re finished.  I’m finished.”

“Now if any of my colleagues want to take it up, they can take it up.  I’m finished,” Sheperd said.

Then, Councilman Bond requested that Beltline Inc. come in to the Cmte, “to explain their answer to number one… in light of the contradictory information that has arisen after they made their statement, that they clarify their answer for accuracy.”

Then, Councilwoman Archibong requested that BAHAB come in “to give us an update on what’s been going on and some of the considerations that they’ve been grappling with.”

According to Policy Analyst Steven Tam and Secretary Angela Campbell, they will be contacting both the Beltline and BAHAB to come in after the Council recess.

(END / 2011)

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