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Community Development Issues Raised at Atlanta City Council Candidate Forums

By Titus Falodun Staff Writer | 10/25/2013, 9:53 a.m.
Foreclosures impact every level of the housing market, from high-rise condos to low-income housing.
AHAND and The Atlanta Voice presented its Candidate Forum on Community Development series, held at Morehouse College and Georgia State University, on Oct. 12 and 19.
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Atlanta City Council Candidate Forums

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Atlanta City Council candidates speak on community development. Do not forget to voice your vote Nov. 5.

Atlanta City Council candidates discussed economic recovery and revitalization efforts in neighborhoods, the foreclosure crisis, and other major community concerns during the non-partisan Atlanta City Council Candidate Forum on Community Development, presented by the Atlanta Housing Association of Neighborhood - based Developers (AHAND) and The Atlanta Voice.

All candidates from districts 3, 4, and at-large posts were invited to participate in the forum held Saturday, October 12 at Morehouse College. Candidates from districts 1, 2, 5, and 12 were invited to participate in the forum held Saturday, Oct. 19 at Georgia State University.

Lashawn Hoffman, former Atlanta City Council District 4 candidate and Chief Executive Officer at Pittsburgh Community Improvement Association, Inc., served as moderator for the two forums.

Community development issues are front and center this election season, due to major and vast foreclosures in the metropolitan Atlanta area, throughout the past few years.

“We have neighborhoods that still are challenged and it is the right time now to redevelop them, ” said City Council Post 2 At-Large candidate Mary Norwood said.

The former two-term councilwoman is running against incumbent Councilman Aaron Watson, who did not participate in the forum.

Foreclosures impact every level of the housing market, from high-rise condos to low-income housing.

“I’m running to bring trust, confidence, and accountability back into the community,” District 3 City Council candidate Patricia Harris Crayton said. “With so many households in despair, something went wrong. And we need somebody in there that’s going to fix it.”

Neighborhoods where working families with strapped incomes are the hardest hit. Thus, the widespread foreclosure has all but depleted the rental market.

“Every time I step in the chamber, I’m fighting for ordinary people,” District 3 City Councilman Ivory Young said. “I’m helping little neighborhoods take their condition and make it better.”

Recently, Georgia posted the nation’s fifth highest state foreclosure rate during the first half of the year: 0.86 percent of housing units with a foreclosure filing (one in every 117) despite a 47 percent year-over-year drop in foreclosure activity, according to RealtyTrac Midyear 2013 U.S. Foreclosure Market Report™.

Atlanta ranks No. 18 nationwide in foreclosure rates (1.11 percent), per the same report.

“In district one, we’ve lost [more than] 10,000 people. We need to replace those folks,” District 1 City Council candidate Robert Welsh said at the second forum held at GSU.

Welsh is running against incumbent city councilmember Carla Smith and Bill Powell. Both did not participate in the forum.

Affordable rental housing primarily involves working class people who pay for housing out of their own wallets. These workers fill frontline capacities in retail, restaurants, hotels, airports, hospitals, etc.

Due to recent economic woes and a sloth-like recovery and employment growth, individuals and families are finding themselves out of the job, out their homes, and ultimately, out of luck.

But Atlanta residents are seeing some assistance in that area.

“A lot of that happens through community development corporations committed to building communities,” District 5 City Councilmember Natalyn Mosby Archibong said.