ATLANTA (AP) — Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms has unveiled an ambitious affordable housing plan that aims to counter rising costs and the displacement of longtime residents.
The 43-page plan released Monday lays out a number of citywide policy proposals including zoning changes, developer incentives, and the creation of a housing innovation lab, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
Bottoms said at a news conference that the plan will serve as a blueprint for how the city will deploy $1 billion in public and private funding and create or maintain 20,000 affordable housing units by 2026. The plan puts into action one of the central pledges of Bottoms' 2017 campaign.
"Rents are going up around our city, but the increase in wages is not keeping pace," Bottoms said. "There's a growing gap in what people can afford and what people make."
Bottoms said the city will use public money and land as an incentive to attract private investment, while also pledging to find new government funding.
While the city has enjoyed a boom in recent years, development has been primarily focused on luxury housing. That has put pressure on renters and homeowners who have seen their property taxes soar.
Implementing the proposal could test Bottoms' ability to corral city, state and federal resources, as well as the backing of local businesses, developers and nonprofits. The plan's 13 initiatives and 45 other items will also require dozens of pieces of legislation from City Hall.
Supporters say it's one of the most comprehensive plans of its kind in the city's history. But critics say it lacks detailed specifics.
Sarah Kirsch, executive director of Urban Land Institute of Atlanta, applauded the plan. "This is not a moonshot, this 20,000 units," Kirsch said, calling the plan "a giant leap" for affordable housing in Atlanta.
But affordable housing expert and Georgia State University professor Dan Immergluck said he was unimpressed. "There's too few details, no firm dollar commitments on different proposals," he said.
Immergluck said the mayor will need to find significant new sources of local funding or risk not being able to leverage existing public money very far.
Information from: The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, http://www.ajc.com