COMMUNITY BUILDING BEGINS WITH GOOD HOUSING POLICY
In Atlanta, a number of promising housing and community development initiatives offer rewarding engagement opportunities. Here is an overview of those efforts and links to the organizations spearheading them:
Atlanta Housing Forum and House ATL
The longest running community forum--three decades and counting--is the Atlanta Regional Housing Forum, which meets quarterly and is free and open to the public. House ATL is a broad-based coalition led by the Atlanta chapter of the Urban Land Institute and the Arthur Blank Family Foundation to devise a comprehensive affordable housing plan for the City of Atlanta. In support of these advocacy efforts, Bruce has penned several op-eds in the Atlanta Business Chronicle.
"Atlanta can and must correct longstanding housing deficiencies", Bruce Gunter editorial in the Atlanta Business Chronicle, June 2020
"Affordable Housing is cool....but a test awaits", Bruce Gunter editorial in the Atlanta Business Chronicle, May 2019
The need for affordable housing in Atlanta is so great that the private sector must be enlisted in the effort. One such mechanism is the recently enacted Inclusionary Zoning ordinance that mandates the inclusion of a certain percentage (10-15%) of all housing in new developments inside the Beltline area as affordable. Invest Atlanta is the primary housing finance agency for the city and created an affordable housing strategy for it.
Equitable transit-oriented development
The most direct way to make housing affordable to families of lesser means is to have it be accessible to transit, thereby obviating the need for a car. The savings to the household budget are substantial; the streets are less congested; and the air less polluted. This win-win-win proposition is being promoted by the TransFormation Alliance, with leadership provided by Enterprise Community Partners.
Atlanta was one of the hardest hit cities in the nation by the housing crisis, with foreclosure rates far above national norms. Even today, in many of the region’s communities, a high percentage of the homes have mortgages that are underwater. The Atlanta Neighborhood Development Partnership (ANDP) spearheaded the effort to combat this blight by organizing the award-winning Piece by Piece Initiative.
Walkability and good urban planning
Affordable housing is a key ingredient in walkable and connected communities, a development form that depends on density and a multiplicity of uses to create livable communities, such as Ponce City Market, the city of Decatur, the burgeoning Memorial Drive corridor, and other great places. Check your own neighborhood's "walk score". And the region's primary planning agency, the Atlanta Regional Commission, has devoted more resources toward affordable housing solutions.