Atlanta BeltLine, Inc. has increased the money they plan to spend on affordable housing from $7.5 million to 11 million over the next three years, as the issue of affordable housing along the Beltline has received renewed scrutiny.
ABI also more than doubled the amount of bonds they plan to ask the city to issue this year, with most of the increase going towards debt refinancing.
During a board meeting Wednesday morning, ABI CEO Paul Morris told the board that the issue of affordable housing would remain front and center for ABI.
“More importantly than anything else, really making sure that whatever we do, where we have the ability, we are doing our part to really secure and protect, preserve and retain and build opportunities for people to live and work around the Beltline in a way that is affordable and equitable,” Morris said.
The board voted to approve a resolution that would allow ABI to move forward in issuing three series of bonds this year.
- Series I: $71.98 million for refinancing
- Series II $23.3 million in new money, with $3.5 million going towards affordable housing
- Series III: $50 million in new money with $40 for capital projects, $7.5 million in affordable housing and $2.5 million in economic development.
In their September meeting, ABI had discussed issuing about $70 million in bonds, with $20 million in refinancing.
Marshall Norwood, chief financial officer for ABI, told the board the second series of $23.3 million was related to settling a tax dispute with Atlanta Public Schools. ABI will use $3.5 million of that money to add to the $7.5 million for affordable housing they had initially allocated, Norwood said. He did not say how ABI planned to spend the remainder of the $23.3 million.
In response to an email asking for clarification about bond money related to the APS settlement, spokesperson Ericka Davis wrote, “The $3.5 million increase for Affordable Housing reflects the 15 percent allocation from the new money series for the APS obligations of the City.”
ABI has also included more than $2 million for affordable housing in their fiscal year 2017 budget, bringing the total designated for affordable housing over the next three years to more than $13 million.
The need to increase affordable housing along the Beltline has increasingly become an issue of concern as housing and rental property prices rise in neighborhoods around the Beltline.
Ryan Gravel, the man whose master’s thesis inspired the Atlanta BeltLine, resigned from the Atlanta BeltLine Partnership board in September, saying not enough is being done to address the issue of affordable housing.
In a later interview, Gravel said he did not have specific answers about how the issue of affordable housing should be addressed since he is not a policy person. He noted there was still time for ABI to make the needed changes, but it would need to be done soon.