by Jim Wehner
One billion dollars. That’s the number Atlanta’s Mayor, Keisha Lance Bottoms, has promised for public-private investment in affordable housing. What an exciting announcement for Atlanta! We have had a long-standing need for affordable housing, and those of us in the affordable housing world are excited to hear our top city official getting serious about this important issue. Kudos to Mayor Bottoms!
Like most major cities in the United States, the story of Atlanta can be told through its housing. FCS sees housing affordability as one of the key economic development tools in the fight to address poverty. It’s not that someone moves out of poverty simply by moving into a house. But with careful work, affordable homeownership can create positive ripple effects impacting individuals, families, and neighborhoods. Homeownership creates stability in families that can improve work performance and solidify school attendance for young students.
Looking back at the housing crisis of 2008 - 2011, we saw almost half of the homes in our focus neighborhood become vacant through foreclosure. It was difficult to watch neighbors moved out of their homes. As we worked to stem the tide of foreclosure and then to repair the newly vacant homes block-by-block, we began to discover another narrative.
Our community was supported by a significant group of historic neighbors made up of those that owned their homes outright and those that had affordable homes created and sustained by Habitat for Humanity Atlanta and FCS. These opportunities for affordable home ownership allowed residents to navigate difficult times while staying in their homes.
At $150,000 per unit, $1 Billion will create just over 6,500 units of housing in Atlanta (1,000 units above the Atlanta Beltline goal of 5,500 affordable units). If applied well, these funds could create affordable housing connected to the Atlanta Beltline, which provides connectivity to city services and transportation for local families.
FCS is encouraged to see affordable housing taking center stage city-wide. In 2018, we are also excited to begin constructing new homes after spending the last several years renovating vacant ones. There is a great deal of energy around this significant need in our city, and for our team at FCS, many of us would say that affordable housing is a moral issue. Strong communities depend on rooted neighbors who are here to stay.
Of course, the $1 Billion has not been raised. It is a promise from our Mayor and a show of her commitment to affordable housing. In the meantime, with your help, FCS continues to develop sustainable homeownership opportunities. If you’re interested in creating affordable housing, we’d love for you to join this effort! We have two unique opportunities for giving. First, an investment fund helps us maintain the capital necessary to do this work. Your participation here helps our community by investing with FCS and earning a modest rate of return. To learn more, please contact me (firstname.lastname@example.org). Secondly, our faith-based work requires a network of committed donors. If you would like to give to support our affordable housing work, please donate online.
It’s an exciting time for affordable housing in Atlanta. We’re grateful to work with you and our community to build a neighborhood that all residents are glad to call home.