Atlanta city leaders and nonprofit heads unveiled a program today they say will allow for construction and preservation of affordable housing across the city at a pace and scale never seen before.
At a press conference today, Atlanta Mayor Andre Dickens and Frank Fernandez, Community Foundation of Greater Atlanta president and CEO, announced a “historic” investment of philanthropic and public funding totaling $200 million. Officials are calling that injection of resources for affordable housing unprecedented, and the program itself a “first-of-its-kind” for Atlanta.
Half of the funding will come from a $100 million donation to the Community Foundation from the Robert W. Woodruff Foundation—a longtime financial wellspring for nonprofit causes in Atlanta—and the Joseph B. Whitehead Foundation.
The other half would be sourced from a new affordable housing bond worth $100 million that Dickens is working with the Atlanta City Council to pass, according to an announcement. The hefty donation is expected to add leverage toward getting the bond measure passed.
General plans call for the Community Foundation to partner with the city and others to “ensure deeper, long-term affordability for communities with a higher risk for displacement,” a press release states.
Specifically, the city’s $100-million contribution would go toward: expediting development of affordable housing on land owned by the city; securing additional funding to push shovel-ready projects closer into construction phases; and preserving affordability where it currently exists by way of subsidies toward “safe, dignified, and high-quality communities,” per city officials.
The Community Foundation funds will be channeled toward both low-cost loans and grants to confront Atlanta’s widespread affordable housing challenges, officials said.
Dickens called today’s announcement “a gamechanger in our ability to have projects keep pace with a rapidly evolving market” in a prepared statement. The mayor has pledged to build or preserve 20,000 units of affordable housing during his tenure in office, which began in early 2022.
Added Fernandez in his own statement: “In every city, the trends have been moving in the wrong direction for entirely too long, and too many people are struggling,” he said. “But we have a window of time particularly in the next three years to change the trajectory in Atlanta. That is why we are moving with urgency to bring together all our partners, to have all hands-on deck, and make a lasting change in housing.”
Time will tell.
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