Atlanta Mayor Andre Dickens touted his affordable housing agenda by marshaling the resources under the city’s purview as well as leveraging public private partnerships. Mayor Dickens’ housing agenda calls for building or preserving 20,000 affordable housing units by 2030. The Dickens Administration has committed more than $100 million to housing to date.
Wednesday morning at The Gathering Spot, Dickens tied safe and affordable housing to a family member’s success as well as a nuclear family unit. During his speech, Dickens highlighted the work that began at Forest Cove, a deteriorating apartment complex at 900 New Town Circle SE in Atlanta.
“The problems of Forest Cove have been passed along for years: It’s the owners’ problem. It’s HUD’s problem. It’s the market’s failure to produce homes,” Dickens said. “For the first time in my tenure as mayor, I came to a point that I had to realize this fact that it’s not my fault, but it is my problem. I didn’t do it, but we have the same problem and I gotta help solve it. I was not willing to let people continue to languish.”
Monday afternoon, Dickens announced that Pretium, an investment firm and Progress Residential, a property management company that services more than 85,00 single-family homes, along with the Atlanta Apartment Association joined forces to relocate the 200 families and the 800 people that reside at Forest Cove while the City and its partners upgrade the property.
“That’s when the ‘Atlanta’ that we know what love they all came forward to answer that call,” Dickens said. “Working with the Community Foundation of Greater Atlanta, we mustered the support and engaged them with more than a dozen nonprofits and government agencies to provide wraparound services. On June 3 The first man was removed from Forest Cove and on September 30, the last family moved off of the property.”
While the work at Forest Cove gets underway, the Dickens Administration announced it has committed more than $100 million to housing, the largest investment in housing in one year.
Notably, On October 21, Dickens announced the Invest Atlanta Board has approved $39 million of funding to acquire 2 Peachtree Street from the State of Georgia. Dickens said plans to convert the building into a mixed-income, mixed-use site to bring more affordable housing and economic activity to Downtown Atlanta.
“This historic purchase is an investment in Downtown Atlanta and a huge leap forward in our plan towards 20,000 affordable housing units,” said Mayor Dickens. “I am grateful for the partnership with Invest Atlanta on the acquisition of 2 Peachtree Street, which provides us with a unique opportunity to address both our need for mixed-income housing at MARTA stations and move us closer to our vision of a world-class downtown area.”
Dickens says his administration is focused on identifying viable public land for development, securing funding and expediting the regulatory process for affordable housing development. He says plans are in the works to develop the Atlanta Civic Center site, the site that formerly housed Bowen Homes, and the 100 acres at Thomasville Heights.
Additionally, Dickens said the City is moving forward with affordable housing projects like 143 Alabama street and 184 Forsyth Street to bring much needed housing to downtown Atlanta, as the area is primed for redevelopment soon after the Centennial Yards breaks ground.
“From Centennial Yards to investments in South Downtown, Downtown Atlanta is on a strong growth trajectory with huge potential to strengthen an economic core of the city and help bring new affordable housing near employment centers and transit to more Atlantans,” said Dr. Eloisa Klementich in a statement, president and CEO of Invest Atlanta. “With exemplary leadership from the Mayor, we are proud to partner with the City of Atlanta once again on a transaction that will make a lasting impact for generations to come.”
Dickens described the City’s fastest way for individuals in underserved communities to move up the ladder is by providing good schools, opportunities for our young people, transportation options and access to food and health care. Each segment is the foundation to thriving neighborhoods. Dickens pledged to improve the quality of life in underserved communities.
“I will be calling on the business and philanthropic community to match and ultimately help us accelerate these activities,” Dickens said. “So I’m here today to thank you for your partnership and challenge us all to think bigger to dream bigger. And to help make Atlanta a city where all can thrive.”