On February 2, Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms announced another step forward in mitigating the displacement of legacy renters in Atlanta’s Historic Westside. In support of her $1 billion public-private Affordable Housing Initiative, Mayor Bottoms, with the Westside Future Fund, announced that 51 new and soon-to-be renovated housing units will be available to legacy renters, particularly those who are most at-risk and currently underserved in the market – such as senior citizens on fixed-incomes and full-time low wage earners.
Mayor Bottoms made the announcement in front of one of the soon-to-be redeveloped properties – an existing multi-family unit on James P. Brawley Street in English Avenue that will house 35 of the 51 new units. All 51 of the units acquired by Westside Future Fund were purchased via philanthropic capital to ensure they can remain permanently affordable.
Westside Future Fund’s focus on legacy resident retention — a centerpiece of its revitalization strategy targeting the four historic neighborhoods of Ashview Heights, Atlanta University Center, English Avenue and Vine City — not only involves championing the development of quality affordable housing for renters and homeowners, but also purchasing properties for renovations and new construction. This Brawley Street property is Westside Future Fund’s first multi-family real estate purchase.
According to the Westside Future Fund, of the 6,300 current Historic Westside households, 90 percent are renters. Of that number, more than 70 percent earn on average less than $15,000 annually and often occupy notoriously sub-standard housing.
Since Westside Future Fund’s establishment in Dec. 2014, the organization has focused on ensuring the Historic Westside develops as a mixed-income community, not displacing current residents, while also creating housing options for future residents of all income levels, especially as the City’s growth has spurred a higher demand for intown real estate.
In April 2017, nearly a year ago and just blocks away from the site of today’s announcement, former mayor Kasim Reed, along with then Atlanta Councilmember Bottoms, stood in front of the residence of a legacy homeowner and announced the launch of the Anti-Displacement Tax Fund program.
The development of the program was a collaborative effort between the City of Atlanta and Westside Future Fund, which will pay property tax increases for current, qualifying homeowners in the four target neighborhoods.
The Tax Fund was also the first initiative out of the community retention plan, created in 2016 to specifically address Westside residents’ (homeowners and renters) concerns about displacement and gentrification. Partners in the development of the plan were City of Atlanta’s Department of Planning and Community Development, the Arthur M. Blank Family Foundation, Atlanta Housing Authority, Invest Atlanta, Atlanta Beltline and Atlanta Habitat for Humanity.
This collaborative of public-private entities, along with organizations within the nonprofit sector, also helped to shape the Westside Land Use Framework Plan that was adopted in December 2017 by Atlanta City Council. The Framework Plan is a design and implementation strategy for the equitable revitalization of the target neighborhoods – sponsored by Westside Future Fund, City of Atlanta and Chick-fil-A Foundation.