Affordable Housing Advocates Target Georgia Legislature
(APN) ATLANTA — On Tuesday, March 08, 2016, Housing Georgia brought together hundreds of people to advocate and educate legislators about housing solutions and to lobby for several bills working their way through the General Assembly.
Housing Georgia is a diverse statewide coalition that advocates and educates for safe, decent, and affordable homes for Georgians.
Georgia has a severe shortage of affordable housing, with rental rates skyrocketing, especially in urban and suburban areas; and with many people having lost their homes in the foreclosure meltdown of 2008.
New rental units being constructed and older units being upgraded tend to be priced for higher income households, and are not helping to meet Georgia’s unmet housing needs.
Housing Georgia supports HR 1553, a House Study Committee to explore strategies to reduce homelessness and to educate legislators about the problem.
HR 1553 is sponsored by State Rep. Jimmy Pruett (R-Eastman) and others. It is in the House Rules Committee.
“In 1991, the Georgia General Assembly wrote into law that it is the state’s policy to provide decent, safe and affordable housing for all segments of the population in Georgia. We are here today, to begin to move forward a real commitment to make that affirmation a reality,” Elizabeth Appley, a Public Policy Advocate for Housing Georgia, said to a packed room at Central Presbyterian Church.
Housing Georgia also supports HB 221, which clarifies that for properties in Georgia receiving federal Low Income Housing Tax Credits to subsidize affordable housing units for Georgia families, that those rent reductions can be calculating in determining the fair market value of the property.
It is sponsored by State Rep. Jay Powell (R-Camilla). It has passed the House and is in the Senate Finance Committee.
“We don’t want affordable housing units to be compared directly with units that are more expensive because they are not comparable,” Marty Collier, member of Housing Georgia, told APN.
Another bill Housing Georgia supports is HB 773, to increase the bond limit for the Georgia Housing and Finance Authority (GHFA). Passage would increase the GHFA bonding limit for its single family residential housing program from 1.3 billion dollars to three billion dollars.
It is sponsored by State Rep. Penny Houston (R-Nashville). It has passed the House and is in the Senate Appropriation Committee.
This fund provides first mortgage loans, down payment assistance, and homebuyer education to eligible first time home buyers in targeted areas. This will enable more Georgians to realize the dream of homeownership.
Another legislative issue that could affect housing is SR 1084, a resolution for a Senate Study Committee on Vacant Structures. If passed it would explore bringing more resources to repair, close, or demolish blighted vacant buildings.
It is sponsored by State Sen. JaNice Van Ness (R-Conyers), and is assigned to the Senate State and Local Governmental Operations Committees.
Housing Georgia also supports an increase in state funds for the State Housing Voucher program.