An Atlanta City Council committee delayed action Tuesday, July 25, on an ordinance setting aside surplus land as affordable housing to get more information on how many city-owned properties might be available.
While the city owns 1,419 parcels that have been deemed surplus, 1,188 are under the purview of the city Public Works, Parks and Recreation or Watershed Management agencies, Katrina Taylor Parks, deputy chief of staff for Mayor Kasim Reed, told the council's Community Development & Human Services Committee.
"Those departments may have some future need associated with these parcels," she said.
Parks asked the committee to postpone a decision on the ordinance to give the city's staff time to perform a "deep dive" analysis to find out how many city-owned properties might be available for use as affordable housing and where those parcels are located.
"We need to honestly know what we have," she said.
Councilman Michael Julian Bond, the ordinance's chief sponsor, asked Parks to expedite the administration's research because Atlanta faces an affordable housing crisis.
"Most of our employees don't live in the city because they can't afford to," Bond said. "We want people who work for the city to live in the city. But that doesn't happen by happenstance. It takes purposeful effort."
Another part of the debate involves where the affordable houses would be built. The surplus sites are said to be located in all council districts. But developers have resisted taking the city’s incentives to build even 20 percent affordability in their housing projects, said Councilmember Cleta Winslow. The result is that the majority of affordable housing projects are located south of I-20.
“I could take some people to NPU-S, where there are not abandoned homes, there are abandoned blocks,” Winslow said. “When you talk about affordable housing, I’ve got affordable housing. I’ve some some abandoned blocks.”
*Portions courtesy of Atlanta Business Chronicle and Saportareport.com