Dickens adds $7M for housing trust fund to proposed budget after pushback

Atlanta Mayor Andre Dickens speaks at the Housing Our Region discussion hosted by Rose Scott of WABE's "Closer Look" on Thursday, May 12, 2022, in Atlanta. (Jasmine Robinson/WABE)

Last December, Atlanta City Council approved a recurring fund for housing that would dedicate a portion of the city’s annual budget to improving and expanding the local supply of affordable units.

To the frustration of some housing advocates, the first budget proposed by Mayor Andre Dickens since the legislation passed included $58.7 million for affordable housing — but no money for the recurring housing trust fund.

After initially citing concerns about economic factors including inflation, now $7 million will be allocated to this recurring trust fund, the mayor announced on Thursday. Dickens announced the new funding a day after WABE’s story about the lack of such allocations in the initially proposed budget.

This addition raises the proposed budget’s total investment in affordable housing to $65 million. Dickens said he would submit an amendment to the budget proposal with these changes on Monday.

The initial proposal of $57.8 million for affordable housing included funds for rental assistance and investment in resources for the homeless. The city council isn’t set to adopt the upcoming budget, including the amendment with these changes, until June 20.

Dickens clarified that this housing trust fund would not be used “as a piggy bank” and that the goal was to spend the money immediately to support the development of affordable housing. He also said that, in the future, the city is looking for ways to generate revenue to fund affordable housing rather than rely on property taxes.

On Thursday, the mayor also discussed the first meeting of an Affordable Housing Strike Force comprised of representatives from his own team, Invest Atlanta, Atlanta Public Schools, MARTA, the BeltLine and other entities. Dickens said the city, Atlanta Public Schools and MARTA are working together to identify vacant properties they each own that could be collaboratively developed as affordable housing.

For more on how market conditions impact Atlanta housing, view the Atlanta Regional Housing Forum on June 1. Info on how to attend or view: https://www.atlantaregionalhousingforum.org