Atlanta Resolution Would Ask Georgia to Allow Rent Control
(APN) ATLANTA — Atlanta City Councilman Antonio Brown (District 3) introduced a resolution encouraging the State of Georgia to allow cities like Atlanta to adopt rent stabilization, or rent control, laws.
Currently, Georgia law, O.C.G.A. 44-7-19 prohibits cities and counties from regulating how much a residential lessor can charge a tenant for rent.
“A RESOLUTION ENCOURAGING THE GEORGIA GENERAL ASSEMBLY TO REPEAL THEIR PROHIBITION ON THE ABILITY OF COUNTIES OR MUNICIPALITIES FROM CONTROLLING OR REGULATING RENT TO BE CHARGED FOR PRIVATELY-OWNED SINGLE-FAMILY OR MULTIPLE-UNIT RESIDENTIAL RENTAL PROPERTIES…” the resolution’s caption states.
The resolution appears to be headed for passage, as it already has the support of a majority of Councilmembers.
The paper is co-sponsored by Carla Smith (District 1), Amir Farokhi (District 2), Cleta Winslow (District 4), Jennifer Ide (District 6), Dustin Hillis (District 9), Andrea Boone (District 10), Marci Overstreet (District 11), Joyce Sheperd (District 12), Michael Julian Bond (Post 1-at-large), Matt Westmoreland (Post 2-at-large), and Andre Dickens (Post 3-at-large), according to an Atlanta Progressive News handwriting analysis of the signatures, in which only certain letters could be made out.
Two Councilmembers representing Buckhead–Howard Shook (District 7) and JP Matzigkeit (District 8)–did not appear to have co-sponsored the paper. Natalyn Archibong, the only other Councilmember not to sign on, was absent from the meeting.
Council President Felicia Moore referred the paper to Finance/Executive Committee, which is set to hear the resolution on Wednesday, January 15, 2020, at 1:00 p.m.
“Land values, specifically in District Three continue to rise. All over the city, we’re experiencing this inflation in land costs,” Councilman Brown told Atlanta Progressive News.
“There’s only so much we can do as a local government without the support of the State. Our hands are tied, and you have to be extraordinarily creative with legislation,” Brown said.
When asked about the likely opposition from organizations like the apartment association, Brown replied, “I could care less.”
“At the end of the day, we have to do what’s right by the people. We cannot continue to sit by while residents are being displaced, while landlords are not being regulated with rent control, and they’re raising rents by two hundred dollars or three hundred dollars,” Brown said.
“The reality of English Avenue and Vine City [neighborhoods], 92 percent of residents rent,” Brown said.
Brown agreed that recent Atlanta policies around property tax relief benefitted homeowners, and that not enough had been done to help renters.
“When you put systems in place to help homeowners, you’re really only helping a small portion of residents in the communities,” Brown said.
RENT CONTROL BECOMING INCREASINGLY COMMON NATIONALLY
Currently, only five U.S. states and the District of Columbia allow rent control. The states are California, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, and Oregon.
Last year, the California and Oregon became the only U.S. states to establish a statewide rent control policy.
Atlanta isn’t the first city to consider asking a State Legislature for permission to pursue rent control.
In 2015, Seattle City Councilwoman Kshama Sawant introduced a proposal asking the State of Washington to allow cities and counties in Washington to adopt rent control.
At first, it seemed like there may not be enough support on the Seattle City Council to adopt the resolution, but, after tenants turned out in droves to demand its adoption, the Council passed the resolution.
The Washington Legislature has still not taken heed of Seattle’s request.
THE NEED FOR RENT CONTROL
More than half of Atlanta’s 99,000 rental households pay more than thirty percent of their income towards rent, meaning that they are housing cost burdened, according to a 2018 audit of housing in Atlanta conducted by the City Auditor’s Office.
An estimated 26 percent of Atlanta’s rental households are paying more than fifty percent of their income towards rent.
The legislation is a response to skyrocketing rents in Atlanta.
The median rent for a one bedroom apartment has increased from 1,100 dollars per month, to 1,600 dollars per month during the six year period from March 2013 to March 2019, the legislation notes.
Tim Franzen, a spokesperson for the Housing Justice League, was thrilled to hear about the legislation.
“In Atlanta we’re about forty years behind the rest of the country when it comes to these affordable housing safety nets.
“New York and San Francisco and Oakland, it’s actually easier for low-income persons to survive because of the safety nets there,” Franzen said, referring to cities with rent control.
“Rent control is a way to survive and thrive for low-income folks,” he said.
He said advocates would be mobilizing in support of the ordinance.
(END / Copyright Atlanta Progressive News / 2020)