1,000 signatures reached
To: Atlanta City, Fulton County, and Georgia State Elected Officials
Atlanta's Renter's State Of Emergency #RenterCrisisATL
Addressing the Renters State of Emergency: What can we do now?
There are several potential policy solutions to Atlanta’s affordability crisis. Any one of these policies would be a step toward ensuring that residents in existing neighborhoods most at risk for gentrification will be able to afford and ultimately enjoy the rising economic fortunes of those areas. All together, they represent our best chance at having a city that is just and affordable for everyone.
1. Preservation of Existing Affordable Housing
Given both the severe lack of genuinely affordable low income housing and the increasing displacement of low income families and seniors from their long-term communities, acting now to preserve all existing affordable housing must be a top priority. This includes project based section 8 apartments as well as public housing. In many cities across the country, these types of developments have been increasingly converted to luxury and higher income housing due to gentrification, resulting in major displacement for those residents. We must call on our local government and HUD to work together to ensure these complexes remain protected.
What we need: More accurate (NMI) measures for affordability targets.
Policies to actively protect already existing low income units.
2. Better Protection of Renters Rights
.As they stand now evictions in Atlanta are very inhumane, often locking low income people into a cycle of debt and more evictions that is difficult to overcome. A “Just Cause Ordinance” at the county level would ensure that landlords must schedule evictions ahead of time, and during business and daytime hours to give tenants time to prepare and coordinate their move. Evictions during extreme weather would also be prohibited, this would protect tenants from incurring added costs of property damage and theft. Lastly, a ‘just cause ordinance’ would carefully outline a relocation policy, allowing access to resources so tenants may be relocated safely to a temporary shelter or home prior to finding new housing.
What we need: Just Cause Ordinance to make evictions safe, just and less dehumanizing;
Right of First Refusal to help tenants stay in place;
Rent and Vacancy Control on the unit.
3. Inclusionary Zoning
Inclusionary zoning requires that a certain percentage of units in any new development, or a substantial rehabilitation which expands an existing building, be set aside as affordable units. In return, the developers are granted a density bonus which allows them to build a smaller floor area ratio, increasing the number of units in their complexes. Inclusionary zoning policy typically aims to create mixed-income neighborhoods, produce affordable housing for a diverse labor force, seek equitable growth of new residents, and increase homeownership opportunities for low and moderate income levels (DC Department of Housing & Community Development).
Currently, there are several inclusionary zoning policies throughout the US that provide a framework for guidance. One of the most successful inclusionary zoning programs, and a model for the City of Atlanta, has been in effect in Montgomery County, Maryland. A suburb of Washington, D.C., the county enacted this policy in 1972.
What we need: Inclusionary zoning policy that is well designed and mandatory.
4. Property Tax Abatement
Property tax abatement programs eliminate or significantly reduce property tax payments on a home for years at a time. The purpose of these programs is to attract buyers to locations with lower demand, such as areas of the inner city in the early stages of revitalization efforts. They can also be used to incentivize developers to build affordable housing, as well as protect long time low-income homeowners from displacement as property taxes frequently increase beyond their means – this is especially true for seniors. Some cities offer tax abatements citywide, while others only offer them in designated areas.
What we need: A well designed Property Tax Abatement program to encourage developers to build for affordability while also protecting long term low income homeowners from displacement.
5. Vacant Property Accountability & Equitable Code Enforcement
Many of the neighborhoods at risk of increasing gentrification are also suffering with many vacant properties. Vacant properties amid a rising homelessness count are unacceptable, and we must call on the city to hold vacant landlords accountable. They could begin doing this by implementing policy for vacant property reclamation, and subsequently donating vacant properties to community organizations who can use them to create non-profit run affordable and supportive housing.
What we need: Equitable and sensitive code enforcement and slumlord and vacant property accountability.
Why is this important?
Atlanta is in a renter’s state of emergency. How many of us have engaged in or overheard conversations with folks in our city about the rising rents and rapidly changing face of our city? Development doesn’t have to be a bad word but what we are seeing in Atlanta right now is the kind of development and wealth extraction that will leave Atlanta totally unaffordable for low and moderate income people.
In just a few short years the Old Fourth Ward, home of Dr. King, went from affordable to one of the most expensive places to find new housing in the city, we simply can’t afford this kind of status quo development that leaves renters and low income people behind.
Some of the report’s findings include:
*Since 2012 Atlanta has lost 5% of its affordable housing every year
*95% of Apartments built since 2012 have been considered luxury
* 72% of Atlanta neighborhoods are considered gentrified or gentrifying
* More than 53% of all renters in the city pay more than 30% of their income on housing, yet many landlords require proof that tenant income exceeds 3x rent
We need a movement to build a city that works for everyone, and the release of this report will be the launch of a campaign to push the City and County to begin reigning in unchecked development. The campaign will also focus on renter’s rights, as Atlanta is several decades behind other cities of its size. We hope we count on your solidarity!
Real full report here: https://d3n8a8pro7vhmx.cloudfront.net/oohatl/pages/53/attachments/original/1468328705/RSOE.pdf?1468328705
Sumary page: https://d3n8a8pro7vhmx.cloudfront.net/oohatl/pages/53/attachments/original/1468329040/CDPR.pdf?1468329040