Atlanta Council Considers Affordable Housing Ordinance Drafted by APN Editor

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300_CDHR_me(APN) ATLANTA — At the Monday, November 24, 2014 Meeting of the Community Development/Human Resources Committee of the City Council of Atlanta, a new proposed ordinance for Affordable Housing Impact Statements received a first reading.

APN’s News Editor–the present writer–drafted the ordinance, in consultation with Chairman Andre Dickens (Post 3-at-large), as part of a law school paper, through Gonzaga University School of Law.

APN has posted a video of the presentation on the proposed ordinance to APN’s Youtube channel:

The ordinance calls for the use of Affordable Housing Impact Statements in the City of Atlanta.

If the ordinance is passed by the Council and enacted, any legislation passed by the CD/HR Committee and Council that impacts the affordable housing stock of the City of Atlanta would be required to have attached an Affordable Housing Impact Statement, prepared by the City’s Office of Housing.

The Council routinely passes legislation that impacts the affordable housing stock of the City of Atlanta, especially related to acceptance of federal grant dollars, land use changes, and other types of legislation.

Having an Impact Statement attached to the legislation would empower the CD/HR Cmte and the Council with meaningful information regarding the legislation’s estimated impact, at the point that the legislation is being considered.

The Municipal Clerk’s Office would also be tasked with maintaining a repository of all Impact Statements, which would allow advocates, stakeholders, and policymakers to track the aggregate estimated impact of the Council’s policy decisions on the affordable housing stock of the City of Atlanta over time.

“The structure for the Statements, as per the draft ordinance currently before the Council, is as follows:

“This legislation, if enacted, is estimated to have a projected impact upon the affordable housing stock of the City of Atlanta by:

“Adding ___ or decreasing ___ units affordable at 30 or below percent of the City of Atlanta Area Median Income (AMI);

“Adding ___ or decreasing ___ units affordable between 30.01 and 50 percent of AMI;

“Adding ___ or decreasing ___ units affordable at between 50.01 and 80 percent of AMI; and

“Adding ___ or decreasing ___ units affordable at over 80 percent of AMI.”

State Rep. “Able” Mable Thomas (D-Atlanta) and Anita Beaty, Executive Director of the Metro Atlanta Task Force for the Homeless, spoke in favor of the legislation at the Cmte Meeting.

In addition, Deborah Scott, Executive Director of Georgia STAND-UP, says the organization is in support of the proposal as well.

“Affordable housing is a critical issue for the sustainability and liveability of Atlanta.  Many elected officials, city staff members, and concerned citizens are interested in developing more tools for the creation and retention of affordable housing units,” Chairman Dickens said.

“I am thankful that Matthew Cardinale shared his ideas and research with me a little while ago and we worked on adjusting the proposed legislation that was presented this week in my Community Development and Human Resources Committee Meeting,” Dickens said.

“We will seek additional input from the administration, community, and others so that it will hopefully become an enforceable ordinance that leads to more affordable housing in the City of Atlanta,” Dickens said.

Affordable Housing Impact Statements are currently used in at least two other jurisdictions across the U.S., including Austin, Texas; and San Diego, California.

The proposed Impact Statements for Atlanta, however, are more focused on the impacts in terms of numbers of housing units created or destroyed, while other jurisdictions’ Impact Statements are more qualitative and open-ended.

The Office of Housing is currently reviewing the proposal.

“I did have a chance to review the actual draft of the ordinance and there are some parts I would like to work in conjunction with Matthew and Councilmember Dickens on,” Derrick Jordan, Interim Director for the Office of Housing for the City of Atlanta, said, during the Meeting.

“I think it needs more structure…  Some of the issues it outlines can be done, I think, in other ways.  So I want to at least take a chance to sit down with you all and work through those, kind of minor details,” Jordan said.

“We also want the opportunity to address the Administration on it, let them know what direction we’ll be heading in regards to this paper as well,” Jordan said.

The Office of Housing, Chairman Dickens and his staff, and APN’s News Editor are currently working together to work out the details of the process that the Office of Housing would use to come up with estimated impacts for various types of housing impact legislation, as well as possible amendments to the proposed ordinance.

Chairman Dickens said he hopes the legislation will pass early next year.

(END/2014)

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