Atlanta Mayor Andre Dickens addressed business leaders, stakeholders, community leaders and members of his cabinet during Monday morning’s State of the City Address. Dickens focused on Atlanta’s safety, transportation, and quality of life during his 40-minute speech.
Crime was a major focal point during Dickens’s speech. He discussed his public safety measures in an effort to curb violent crimes in Atlanta.
We are on track to bring on 250 officers within the calendar year,” Dickens said. “You see, recruitment efforts are yielding more applications, and for the first time ever APD partnered with Lenox Square Mall to host a recruitment event there.”
Dickens also said the Atlanta Police Department has closed 72% of the city’s homicide cases by arrest, to date.
Additionally, Dickens said Atlanta’s unity was threatened by an effort to de-annex Buckhead. However, he was pleased with senior leadership inside the Georgia State Capitol to head off Buckhead City CEO Bill White’s secession effort before the legislature reached the business end of the calendar.
“Thankfully, the move to carve out a portion of our city is off the table for now, Dickens said. “If I have it my way it will remain that way forever.”
Dickens in his first ninety days has had a cordial relationship with Lieutenant Governor Duncan, House Speaker Ralston and the Atlanta delegation underneath the Gold Dome. Recently, the Atlanta Police Department is building a second Zone 2 Precinct on West Paces Ferry Road which will be dedicated to fighting crime in Buckhead.
An overarching theme in Dickens’s speech was the fact Atlanta is one of the more desirable cities to live in the United States. He announced initiatives to improve the city’s green spaces, endorsed a transportation SPLOST package, so-called “TSPLOST 2.0,” to fund repair sidewalks, bridges and roadways. He said a public improvement bond would yield millions for capital projects.
“Taken together, that’s $750 million toward improvements across this city,” Dickens said.
According to the Zillow Home Value Index, home values have risen 20% across America and 29% in Metro Atlanta from February 2021 to February 2022. Plus, the cost of rent in Atlanta has increased 20% during the same time period.
Dickens says his administration will create or preserve 20,000 units of affordable housing over the next eight years which will be overseen by the Affordable Housing Strike Force—a one-stop shop to oversee all the city’s affordable housing needs.
“JP Morgan Chase has committed $2.5 million over three years to the Atlanta Neighborhood Development Partners to help the dreams of home ownership become a reality for people of color,” Dickens said as he highlighted those accomplishments. “Wells Fargo, in partnership with Enterprise Community Partners, is committing $1.3 million to fund at least one thousand units. Invest Atlanta has secured financing to support nearly 400 units. Just two weeks ago we broke ground on the Skyline Apartments which will bring 250 affordable units to the Peoplestown neighborhood.”
According to the Atlanta Federal Reserve Bank and their summaries of 2020 U.S. Census data, 49% of Atlanta renters are cost-burdened, which means a household pays more than 30% of its income toward housing expenses. 84% of Atlanta households exactly spend 30.01% to 50% of their income on housing expenses.
While addressing the quality of life, Dickens believes Atlanta should be the best place to raise children. He announced the launch of the Mayor’s Youth Scholarship fund and the Mayor’s Internship Program.
“I want our kids to see our government up close and maybe even see a future for themselves in it,” Dickens said.
Dickens also has a plan to employ 3,000 of Atlanta’s teenagers in a summer employment program.
“One City with One bright future,” Dickens said. “A city of safe, healthy, connected neighborhoods with an expansive culture of equity, empowering upward mobility and full participation for all residents, embracing youth development, and an innovative, dependable government moving Atlanta forward. Together.”