5 Housing Stats We’re Paying Attention To

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Atlanta is building the new Mercedes-Benz Stadium, home to the Atlanta Falcons and Atlanta United. The Atlanta BeltLine is working its way throughout the city. New businesses and residents are moving inside the I-285 perimeter all the time. All the changes (and more) impact life for city residents, as well as housing costs.

We are passionate about affordable, mixed-income housing, and we know what a difference a stable home can make for families. We continue to invest in affordable rental properties and home ownership opportunities in Historic South Atlanta where we serve. As Atlanta continues to develop and change, here are 5 statistics we’re paying attention to:

1. 2015 was one of the largest single-year population increases in Atlanta’s history.

Atlanta has added 7,900 new residents since 2015, which is an indicator of the rapid population growth impacting the entire metro Atlanta and surrounding counties. The 10 County Atlanta region is home to 4,401,800 persons in 2016, which is almost a 70,000 person increase in just a year. Atlanta is consistently ranked as one of the fastest growing cities in the country, and this increase in population directly impacts demand for all types of city housing.

2. 37% of Atlanta homes are owner occupied.

Home ownership brings an array of benefits and on-going stability to a family. In South Atlanta, approximately 55% of homes are owner-occupied. We are excited to see our neighborhood surpassing city averages. We believe fair, affordable rental opportunities are valuable in a community, but we also are working to create access to home ownership. In 2016, FCS welcomed 14 new homeowners to the neighborhood.

3. 18% of Atlanta homes are vacant.

At the height of the recession, approximately half of the residential properties in Historic South Atlanta were vacant. These empty homes attracted nuisance (and sometimes criminal) activity, but also discouraged residents who often found themselves neighbor-less. Sometimes for the length of an entire block. It’s exciting to see more houses being filled in South Atlanta. Last year alone FCS transformed 14 vacant properties into beautiful homes!

4. The median home listing in Atlanta is $204,500, a record high.

Atlanta’s housing market broke sales records in 2016. Atlanta BeltLine development is spurring increased housing prices throughout Beltline neighborhoods, including Adair Park, Washington Park, West End, and our own South Atlanta. Currently, FCS homes list at affordable rates in the mid 100,000’s.

5. The BeltLine earmarked roughly 5,600 units for affordable housing.

The development of the BeltLine has had a significant impact on Atlanta’s growth. In an effort to address affordable housing, they allocated some of their funding to support affordable housing. But, as urban planner and Atlanta BeltLine founder Ryan Gravel notes, “At the end of the day, it’s a drop in the bucket.” Atlanta’s need for affordable housing goes beyond these 5,600 units.

In South Atlanta, FCS owns 9 rental properties in addition to homes we purchase, renovate, and sell. Along with partner housing programs, we’ve been able to help additional families secure owner occupied homes in South Atlanta. Since beginning work in South Atlanta, FCS has constructed, rehabilitated, or partnered with builders to re-establish many affordable homes in the neighborhood.

We’re excited about positive changes coming to the city of Atlanta, and we’re committed to continue to invest in affordable, mixed-income housing in our city. If you would like to become a part of this restorative work, consider setting up a monthly gift.

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When City Shapers Gather

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By Shawn Duncan

Who do you know who is working to shape your city to reflect the Kingdom of God? Are you energized every time you are around them? How exciting is it to interact with people who are actively participating in changing your city?

I was so fortunate to experience just this over the last six weeks. I don’t want to make you jealous or anything, but I was able to facilitate the 2017 City Shapers Cohort through the Lupton Center! “What is this amazing thing?” you ask. Great question!

City Shapers is a 6-week cohort of 30 participants living and working in Metro Atlanta. This is an initiative led by The Lupton Center to connect, equip, and inspire influential leaders in Atlanta from the public, private, and nonprofit sectors. The City Shapers Cohort combined site visits to innovative ministries, collaborative networking sessions, dynamic teaching from thought leaders, and a 6-session online training course called Seeking Shalom.

City Shapers was incredible! I appreciated learning new perspectives from leaders across various sectors. As we learned, grew, and collaborated together, I was inspired to be with a group of people sharing the common goal of impacting their city to reflect the Kingdom of God.

Not only was I overwhelmingly encouraged by City Shapers, but I heard similar reviews from my fellow participants. I’d love to share a few reflections from them.

"I am so incredibly grateful for the experience that I was able to take in with City Shapers. Each session allowed me to meet amazing people and hear about the strong work of unity and shalom that many people in this city are undertaking. It's moments like the ones shared around our tables or listening to the stories of our speakers that push me to give more and be more for the peace of my city."

Jennifer Young, M. Ed., School Climate, Culture, and Disproportionality Specialist, Atlanta Public Schools

“The Lupton Center’s City Shapers Cohort was a wonderful experience. The dialogue was sharp, the online lessons were insightful, and the meetings were great for connecting with other people doing great things in the city of Atlanta. Highly recommend it for individuals and organizations looking to better impact their communities."

Stephen Assink, Director of Operations, Thriving Cities

“The City Shapers cohort was an invaluable experience that indeed will help me in my development as a pastor and community organizer. It was also great to connect with other like-minded people who are committed to seeking and bringing shalom to Atlanta and the world.”

Michael Wortham, Assistant Pastor, Ebenezer Baptist Church

It is so exciting to live in a city with an abundance of leaders committed to God’s vision of Shalom for Atlanta. After 6 weeks of learning and growing together, I am looking forward to seeing the outcome of this event in our city, our churches, and our neighborhoods.

The Lupton Center is delighted and privileged through our training events to equip city shapers from around the country for even greater impact.

Dates have not been set for our second City Shapers Cohort, but if you would like to nominate someone for this, please email pearilya@fcsministries.org and let her know who they are and why they would be a great fit for this experience.

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Recognizing God

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by Jim Wehner

I was walking to work today. It is one of the benefits of our commitment to become neighbors in the community where we serve. I cannot overstate the life I gained when I gave up my commute and moved from the suburbs to our neighborhood of South Atlanta last year. Walking this morning, my heart was thankful for the places where I recognize God in the neighborhood. I even caught myself smiling at one point!

I’m not sure I could have done that a year ago. Having newly moved into the neighborhood, I was struggling just to feel safe as I walked. The streets are so much busier than my former suburban home and the neighborhood simply has a tougher exterior. This uncertainty made it difficult for me to see God in the midst of my surroundings. I didn’t know where to look and I didn’t know what I was looking for exactly.

So many stories in the Scripture show people looking for Jesus in the wrong places. This subverting of expectations is one of the reasons I love the story of the resurrection:

John writes, “Now Mary stood outside the tomb crying. As she wept, she bent over to look into the tomb and saw two angels in white, seated where Jesus’ body had been, one at the head and the other at the foot.

They asked her, “Woman, why are you crying?”

“They have taken my Lord away,” she said, “and I don’t know where they have put him.” At this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not realize that it was Jesus.

He asked her, “Woman, why are you crying? Who is it you are looking for?”

Thinking he was the gardener, she said, “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have put him, and I will get him.”

Jesus said to her, “Mary.”

She turned toward him and cried out in Aramaic, “Rabboni!” (which means “Teacher”).

Jesus said, “Do not hold on to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father. Go instead to my brothers and tell them, ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God’” (John 20:11-17, NIV).

Empty tomb?! What in the world is happening? I love how John, the author of the fourth Gospel, recounts this story. And I love that those closest to Jesus struggled to recognize him after his resurrection. Mary, one whose unfettered worship set her apart, did not recognize Jesus because she did not expect him there.

When I first moved into my current neighborhood, it took me a minute to recognize Jesus in this place. To learn how to pray. To learn that my brokenness is no different than my neighbors’ brokenness. I tried to fit my faith and my expectations into my new environment and the categories of my past experiences. In short, because of its rough exterior,  did I assume that I was bringing God into the neighborhood rather than expecting to find God already here?

This last year has reminded me that life on the margins does not equate a life without God. It’s true that sometimes life does slip away in the midst of difficult circumstances. But it shouldn’t surprise me that Jesus is found in the margins of our society, in the places that are hidden away. He spent his earthly life rubbing elbows with people who didn’t fit the expectations of what the religious would consider appropriate.

Too often, we try to avoid spaces of pain or marginalization. We keep looking for God in safe, sanitized places. And even when we are in difficult surroundings, we sometimes fail to recognize His presence just as Mary wasn’t able to see Jesus for who He was. It wasn’t where she expected Him to be. But Jesus has always subverted our ideas and shown up where we least expect it. As I walk through my neighborhood, I am grateful for the ways I am starting to recognize how He has been alive and present all along.

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