We need to be compassionate and intentional about making Atlanta affordable.
Peter on Housing
There is no single issue I get asked more about than affordable housing. And with good reason.
For too long we’ve grown without taking the affected communities into account. This has resulted in harmful gentrification. We are forcing the very people out of Atlanta that built the city.
For too long we’ve grown without reflecting on how it affects local economies. Midtown and Buckhead boomed seemingly overnight, without enough attention paid to local costs. Now businesses come to me asking for offshore workers when there is 40 percent unemployment in other parts of the city, jobless people happy to relocate if they could just afford to.
Going forward we must be more compassionate, more intentional. Ignoring housing divides one Atlanta into 242 disgruntled neighborhoods. It builds an unnecessarily antagonistic relationship between developers and local residents. It makes people resent the BeltLine despite all its promise. It makes people all over feel left behind and overlooked, with just cause.
When I’m mayor, things will change. Here’s how:
- Build a grand bargain with accountable partners. Housing isn’t an issue the mayor can fix alone. We need Invest Atlanta, AHA and others involved. We need less obvious partners like MARTA and APS helping steer solutions toward development near schools and transit. Most importantly, we need to work towards common goals and build a plan with clear deliverables and a clear timetable. We’ve talked about housing for a long time in Atlanta but never acted. That ends now. I have the experience and knowhow to make this happen and as your next mayor, I will.
- Greater eviction protections. Before we talk about what new options we’ll offer, it’s important to talk about what needs to change for those already house in low-income units. Every person, regardless of their station has a right to a certain level of respect from their fellow Atlantans. Our current eviction system is far too callous. I will enact laws that require compel greater compassion from landlords and afford those being evicted more dignity.
- People-based housing. Teachers should be able to afford to live near their schools, officers in the neighborhoods they police, artists in communities where they can thrive, seniors where they are invigorated and not just “aging in place.” These groups need specific supports. Teachers and officers should receive subsidies. We can work with non-profits to fund free studio space and affordable units. We can change zoning rules and market our city to developers working specifically on housing options specific to our older population.
- Place-based housing. There are food, job, education, and transit deserts all over this city. People are left on islands with few realistic options to reach higher levels of success. That’s why we have to emphasize housing negotiations and laws that are going to ensure the housing is placed near things like MARTA stations, grocery stores, jobs, and school bus stops.
- Income-Based Housing. We have to re-define what “affordable” means and then use every means we have to offer it to everyone. We must offer permanent and transitionary supports for the homeless. Through bonds issuances and abatement we can support those making at or near minimum wage. At higher level of income, through land trusts, zoning variances, community development corporations, and a number of options focused on preservation and strong communities we can help those making more.
- Your feedback. All along the way, I need to hear from you, from your community, about what the future should look like. As we move forward with tailored housing solutions, it’s imperative that NPUs, neighborhood associations, and others be empowered to have a voice.