Angel Poventud photo by Kevin Ward

Shared from Angel Poventud’s Facebook post, inspired by an impassioned discussion on affordable housing at the Atlanta BeltLine Partnership’s City on the Verge May 25, 2017 Reception:

Warning: Soapbox moment ahead.

I have gone to the last two events for the book City on the Verge here in the City of Atlanta and last night I was really able to put my head around what I’ve been thinking and feeling about affordable housing in Atlanta (which is probably relevant to most if not all cities).

At last night’s event at the Atlanta BeltLine Partnership once Mark Pendergrast started taking questions from the room an amazing exchange happened that got me focused like a laser.

Jimmy Hardy asked a question that was so full of passion. He wanted to hear from Mark, how could Mark be so optimistic about the BeltLine when it’s about to displace so many people on the westside of the city due to rising home values, taxes and rents (which has already happened on the Eastside of the BeltLine).

I wanted to jump in. I felt like I needed to take the passion in the concern and make it clear to everyone in the room exactly what Jimmy was so specifically worried about and I wanted to do it with numbers that everyone could understand, so this is what I came up with.

As most of you know, when I bought my house in October of 2011 I was able to purchase it for 14K. That same house today in this neighborhood would be a 114K house even considering the condition it was in. I spent 150K on the rehab and the bank said it would be worth 90K when I was done with the rehab in June of 2013. Today the Adair Park neighborhood is at 300K and my home is probably at 325K. That’s just about a 100K increase in value every year and a half since I moved in.

Before the BeltLine I think it’s pretty fair to say that most people in the Intown South neighborhoods were paying about $25 a year in property taxes. That would be the 30310 zip code, the 10 or so neighborhoods that make up SW Atlanta that border the BeltLine Westside Trail. It’s not hard to see that the property taxes will be going up significantly in the very near future, probably closer to 2K or 3K, if not higher.

In the Adair Park neighborhood there are 250 apartment units on the BeltLine that are $450 for one bedrooms and $500 for two bedrooms. Hardwood floors, lots of light, court yarded buildings. In the Virginia Highland neighborhood WABE did a great story about a person whos rent doubled this past year from $650 to $1300, it’s not hard to see the same thing happening here in Adair Park very soon.

Getting to hear Ryan Gravel recently on WABE explaining that we have to be demanding of our current elected officials, as well as all the current candidates running for office, investments for affordability right now in our city has really got me thinking.

As Jimmy said last night, that boat has sailed. The time is right now. We need to be thinking about spending 100’s of millions of dollars, as a city, to even make a dent in this crisis that is hitting Atlanta. If you’re asking where the money would come from, it’s right in front of our faces. 20 million for the new bridge for the new Football stadium that the city is paying for. 40 million for the new parking deck in Grant Park that the city is paying for, that 60 million right there, why are we not spending that on affordable housing? This isn’t just about home owners, it’s about rents too and it’s not just about the Westside of Atlanta, it’s about all of the city. The BeltLine TAD and the affordable housing piece of the budget (15%) was never intended to be the cities solution to affordability, it was supposed to be the BeltLine’s part.

We as the voters of the city have to demand action now. Those sitting on City Council and in the Mayors office today have done nearly nothing to address the issue that has been building and affecting my life since at least 2004 when the affordable apartment building I lived in on Piedmont Park was torn down for new condos.

We are a city on the verge. We are either going to embrace the challenge and make this a city that welcome all income levels, races, that expects solutions like the Atlanta Housing Authority to rebuild new housing on all the vacant land that has been sitting hollow for decades since the housing projects of Atlanta were torn down or we will be one where we turn our backs on anyone who doesn’t have the money to stay. It really is that simple.

Each and everyone of us has the power to make change, please be that change. It has to happen now, right now.

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