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Atlanta Voters Approve Measures Expected To Support Affordable Housing Nonprofits

A statewide referendum Georgia voters approved exempts Habitat for Humanity from property taxes on land it aquires to build houses for low-income families.
A statewide referendum Georgia voters approved exempts Habitat for Humanity from property taxes on land it aquires to build houses for low-income families.
Credit Brynn Anderson / Associated Press
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Voters approved two items on the ballot that are expected to support affordable housing nonprofits in Atlanta and the state.

First was a statewide referendum, designed to help charities like Habitat for Humanity.

Habitat builds houses for low-income families. But before it can start building, it must acquire land and pay property taxes on that land.

The statewide referendum voters approved exempts Habitat from those property taxes.

Wesley Brooks, who directs housing efforts for Habitat’s Atlanta office, told WABE last month the change will be meaningful locally.

“Being able to take away one of these major expenses for us, it allows us to do more with the donations that we do get,” Brooks said.

He anticipates Habitat in Atlanta could build at least one more house a year or provide repairs for 10-20 more families.

The referendum applies statewide. Once families move into Habitat’s homes, the local county can begin taxing the property again.

Then, at the very end of Atlanta’s ballot, voters approved a tax break for a unique kind of affordable housing.

The tax break will benefit community land trusts, which locally includes the Atlanta Land Trust.

The nonprofit sells homes to families who make less than 80% of the area median income. That means $60,000 annually for a three-person household.

When the trust sells the home, it holds onto ownership of the land. That way, the nonprofit can keep the home affordable for future families.

This election, voters in Atlanta decided people who buy from the land trust can get a homestead exemption.

That means they can deduct $30,000 from their property taxes every year. It’s a benefit that other Atlanta homeowners, who live in their homes, already receive.