Atlanta Considers Giving Away Land For Affordable Housing

David Goldman / Associated Press

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The Atlanta City Council is considering a new strategy to encourage developers to build affordable housing: give them land for free – or almost free.

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To explain the logic behind the legislation, housing advocate Matthew Charles Cardinale pointed to the last time he was in Arkansas.

He was struck by the low rent of apartments — just $400 a month.

“Arkansas can do it. Why? The land isn’t that expensive,” Cardinale said. “If we avoid the acquisition costs we can get to that level of affordability.”

The legislation he crafted with City Council members Michael Julian Bond and Natalyn Archibong would allow Atlanta to sell its vacant lots for just a dollar.

The offer would be available to developers who commit to building units for the lowest income residents – those who make 30 percent or less of the area’s median income.

Mayor Kasim Reed’s administration expressed support for the idea Tuesday but asked the City Council to hold the ordinance to determine where the empty parcels are.

The City Council won’t be able to revisit the idea until after its August recess.