Atlanta Moves Forward on Surplus Property Affordable Housing Program
(APN) ATLANTA — The City Council of Atlanta unanimously approved on Monday, November 04, 2019, an ordinance designating three surplus, city-owned properties as appropriate for use as affordable housing.
The City’s Office of Housing will put out a Request for Proposals for non-profit or for-profit developers to acquire the properties for a dollar, or for a price well below market value, to produce a housing opportunity with a deeply affordable monthly mortgage payment.
The City will give a scoring preference to those developers who propose to create housing units with the deepest level of affordability: favoring units affordable at zero to thirty percent of the Area Median Income (AMI). However, the program will consider proposals as high as eighty percent AMI, if proposals do not come in for deeper affordability.
Historically, and especially in recent years as land values have increased, the City has struggled to use federal dollars and other funding sources to reach extremely low-income and very low-income families.
“The hope is that, with this land being used by a non-profit, or a developer in the affordable housing space, that we will be able to produce housing at a price much lower than would otherwise be possible with this land being given or donated for that purpose,” Chairwoman Natalyn Archibong (District 5) of the Community Development/Human Services Committee said in an interview with the Office of Council Communications posted to Facebook.
The Surplus Property program, by virtue of removing the cost of land acquisition, leverages land already owned by the City, in order to reach deeper levels of affordability.
The ordinance, 18-O-1493, is the first implementing ordinance for the City’s Affordable Housing Homesteading Program, adopted in 2017.
The 2017 program was prompted by a white paper and draft ordinance prepared by APN’s News Editor–the present writer–and introduced by Councilman Michael Julian Bond (Post 1-at-large). Bond and Archibong supported the development of the program with small consulting stipends.
The Kasim Reed administration embraced the program during Reed’s final year in office.
The first three parcels designated for the program are those that are two acres or more, and each are located in southwest Atlanta.
They are located at 879 White Street SW; 1154 Edgefield Drive SW; and 1241 Almont Drive SW.
Code of Ordinances, Part II, Sec. 54-86 (Affordable Housing Homesteading Program, adopted in 2017):
The implementing ordinance had been held in Committee for fifteen months, while Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms’s administration developed their comprehensive affordable housing plan. Leveraging public properties was the number one priority identified in the plan.
The 2017 enabling ordinance sets forth a multi-step process. First, the City’s Department of Assets Management reviewed the City’s list of over 1,200 publicly-owned properties to see which, if any, were surplus – meaning not being used by any city department.
Then, the Office of Housing reviewed that list to see how many were feasible for use as housing. The Office also decided to begin with parcels that were two acres or more.
The 2017 ordinance requires this review process to take care once every calendar year, beginning in each January.
Therefore, in future years, we expect the City’s property inventory to be reviewed each year for this program. In addition, we expect future rounds to move forward on several surplus parcels that are smaller than two acres.
The City’s program focuses on single-family housing because state law only provides limited exceptions to its general requirement that the sale of city property be done through sealed bid to the highest monetary builder.
The current state exception allows for homesteading programs, but not multi-family housing programs.
“One of our next steps is to go to the State and ask for multi-family housing to be used for surplus property. So we’ve got some work to do, but this is a very big first step for the City,” Archibong said.
The implementing ordinance now goes to Mayor Bottoms for her signature.
(END / Copyright Atlanta Progressive News / 2019)