Atlanta Council Committees Approve Surplus Property Housing Ordinance
(APN) ATLANTA — On Tuesday October 23 and Wednesday October 24, 2017, two Atlanta City Council Committees approved an ordinance by Councilman Michael Julian Bond (Post 1-at-large) that would sell surplus city properties, likely for one dollar, to be used to develop affordable single-family homes.
Both the Community Development/Human Services Committee and the Finance/Executive Committee approved the ordinance unanimously. This means that almost the entire Council has already voted in favor of the ordinance.
The ordinance is expected to be passed as part of the Consent Agenda at the Full Council Meeting on Monday, November 06, 2017.
Citizen advocates, including Sherise Brown and Tim Franzen, played a key role in helping the ordinance get passed. Housing Justice League mobilized dozens of people to show their support for the ordinance at a Work Session that was held on August 31.
“I just wanted to thank all of our colleagues. I want to thank the staff. Of course, I want to thank the community. I want to thank Mr. Cardinale for having the idea,” Councilman Bond said at the CD/HS Meeting, following the unanimous approval of the ordinance.
APN’s News Editor–the present writer–wrote a research paper and drafted the ordinance for Councilman Bond and Councilwoman Natalyn Archibong (District 5) earlier this year.
“And we worked – this is a perfect example of how the community, City Council, the Administration can work cooperatively on behalf of citizens, it’s almost a textbook case. So, hats off to everyone involved, and I think we’ve taken a very important step in addressing the affordable housing needs of our citizens,” Bond said.
“This is just the property that we own today but the City may come into ownership of properties in the future and perhaps maybe even one day we can address, with tweaks in the state law, perhaps some of the multi-family needs with this type of program. So this is a win-win all the way around,” Bond said.
The ordinance, which has been amended several times since Bond first introduced it, states a clear preference for housing units affordable at 0 to 30 percent of the Area Median Income.
This means the monthly housing payment would be no more than 523 dollars per month for a four-person household, according to HR&A Advisors, a consulting firm the City hired to study the feasibility of implementing the ordinance.
The housing payment could be that low because the developer would receive the land nearly for free, and if coupled with 20,000 dollars in additional financial support. This is amount is within the range of a typical downpayment assistance grant from the City of Atlanta, which the City is prepared to provide.
The Mayor’s Deputy Chief of Staff, Katrina Taylor-Parks, has been instrumental in pushing the legislation forward.
Over the recent Council recess, she coordinated several city departments in order to review over 1,400 city properties to determine, in that first round review, that approximately at least 78 parcels could be used for affordable homes.
As revised, the ordinance states that once a year, the City will review its properties to determine whether any are surplus. The City will then submit that list to the Office of Housing, which will determine, which of those parcels are feasible for use as housing.
The Council would then have to certify the properties surplus.
After that, the City would issue a request for proposals to any non-profit or for-profit developer to propose affordable housing projects.
The Request for Proposals will encourage the use of creative and innovative strategies to reduce costs, including the use of tiny homes and modular homes, and partnerships with workforce development agencies.
The creation of an affordable housing program through the City of Atlanta that is focusing on producing units at 0 to 30 percent AMI is a significant victory. The trend of City policies over the last decade or so has been to create units affordable to households at higher income brackets.
“We can house people that’s most vulnerable and that need housing the most. That’s the most unmet need is 0 to 30. 95 percent of new development is luxury, and what about 0 to 30?” Sherise Brown told Atlanta Progressive News.
“We appreciate it passing and we thank the Committees that listened to us and brought it through to this point. It’s a beginning. It’s not going to be one silver bullet. It’s not sprint work, it’s a marathon. But we heading in the right direction by getting it started,” Brown said.
“Everybody deserves a place to call home, no matter what their income is,” Brown said.
(END / Copyright Atlanta Progressive News / 2017)