Mayor debuts housing “Strike Force,” touts $59M investment—but none is new money

Atlanta Mayor Andre Dickens’ office on Wednesday debuted its long-awaited Affordable Housing Strike Force and said the city will dedicate $58.7 million toward housing-related initiatives—but none of the funds are new. 

The Dickens administration claimed in a press release that it was “issuing a challenge to break down barriers to the development and preservation of affordable homes in Atlanta,” noting the seemingly hefty investment breaks down to $22.5 million for emergency rental assistance funds, $9.1 million to relocate residents of the condemned Forest Cove apartment complex, $6.2 million in homeless services, and $20.9 million for affordable housing development.

But, like other urbanist watchdogs online, Dan Immergluck, a Georgia State University urban studies professor and frequent critic of City Hall’s housing affordability efforts, wasn’t impressed.

The first three amounts cited, Immergluck said in an email, are “previously committed federal funds” from pandemic-relief programs. And the $20.9 million is from an existing affordable housing trust fund that Gulch developer CIM Group pays for in exchange for nearly $2 billion in public subsidies—part of the controversial downtown redevelopment deal secured during former Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms’ administration.

Immergluck pointed out that the housing trust fund amounts to just over 1% of the subsidy that the city gave to CIM Group.

Significantly, the housing expert added, the $58.7 million touted by the mayor’s office doesn’t include any mention of the city’s new affordable housing trust fund, a funding stream the Atlanta City Council created in December to route a small portion—eventually, a full 2%—of the city’s general fund toward housing.

What’s more, the city’s new housing trust fund isn’t included in Dickens’ first city budget unveiled last week, as WABE reported Wednesday. City officials said that’s because inflation is rising at a faster rate than city…

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