opens IMAGE file 2 min read January 2021 — The COVID-19 pandemic has seen Atlanta’s years-long affordable housing crisis metastasize. With the cost of housing in Atlanta continuing to outpace growth in low and moderate wages, both private and public entities in the community are making efforts to remedy the problem.
In December, Truist Financial Corp. committed to provide up to $4 million for Atlanta’s affordable housing as part of The Atlanta Affordable Housing Fund, a $25-million fund started by multiple prominent real estate developers to deescalate Atlanta’s housing crisis. The fund began in January of 2020 prior to the COVID-19 pandemic to provide low-interest-rate financing for workforce units in the city of Atlanta, in which hundreds of thousands spend 30% of their income toward rent or mortgages according to data from the real estate research forum Urban Land Institute. Contributing factors include a diminished supply of workforce housing, a luxury apartment boom, and now the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Truist’s investment helps us tremendously because of who it is and because it’s our largest commitment to date,” said David Allman, owner and chair of Regent Partners and a founding AAHF board member.
Other private entities have created initiatives for affordable housing for the Atlanta metro area. CareSource allocated $3.5 million in investments to affordable housing projects in Atlanta and Savannah as part of a nationwide initiative distributing $50 million to American affordable housing.
“Our direct investment in affordable housing will provide financial resources to developers who are working to create housing options for low-income individuals,” said Bobby Jones, president of CareSource Georgia.
AT&T’s #BelieveAtlanta initiative has contributed $500,000 to four programs that contribute to “workforce development, access to education, small business resources, career placement and financial literacy.”
In addition to owning the successful real estate company INTL Realty Partners, Georgians Majesty and Elize Gayle co-own the business Evo Haven to provide affordable housing. Evo Haven, based in Fulton County, was born out of the COVID-19 pandemic. Their plan for 2021 is to build dozens of tiny homes out of cargo containers for low- to medium-income families. The 320-square-foot, two-bedroom houses are made efficiently in a warehouse to keep up with the amplified demand for affordable housing.
Meanwhile, the city of Atlanta has begun its $100-million plan to bolster and invest in affordable housing through bonds. The Atlanta City Council ratified Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms’ executive order for $50 million in bonds for the housing stock. This ratification also included authorization and pre-validation of an additional $50 million in bonds that could be issued in the next two to three years. Invest Atlanta, “City of Atlanta’s Official Economic Development Authority,” will run the bond program and will begin the rollout as soon as a few weeks.
“I’m proud of the future work it’ll fund, and I’m excited to start the year off with this,” said Councilman Matt Westmoreland.
These private and public entities’ continued and long-term efforts will alleviate some of the weight on Atlanta’s affordable housing system.