Stacey Abrams releases affordable housing plan in Georgia

Georgia Democratic gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams talks to the media during Georgia's primary election on Tuesday, May 24, 2022, in Atlanta. Abrams announced housing proposals on Wednesday, July 27, 2022 that she says will improve affordability, reduce homelessness, and make it easier for longtime residents to remain in gentrifying neighborhoods. (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson, File)

Democrat Stacey Abrams is promoting a plan she says will make housing more available and affordable across Georgia if she defeats Republican Gov. Brian Kemp this year.

“I will lead the charge and tackling the four central housing challenges faced by Georgians across the state,” Abrams told reporters before releasing her plan on Wednesday.

“That includes and the unaffordability of housing, the shrinking inventory, the displacement of longtime residents due to gentrification, and the preventable and ongoing tragedy of homelessness,” she said.

Abrams repeatedly criticized Kemp for Georgia’s sluggish use of its $989 million in federal rental assistance.

Georgia still has almost half that money unused, Abrams said, although the state gave more of it to 12 large local governments that have been quicker to move the money out the door after the U.S. Treasury threatened to take some of it back.

“The governor is sitting on $450 million that could at least stem the tide of evictions that are sweeping the state,” Abrams said during an online briefing about her plan.

Other Abrams proposals would increase pay for teachers, state troopers and prison guards; tighten state gun laws and extend a state gas tax holiday through the end of the year.

“My candidacy is going to be rife with plans,” Abrams said.

“I am running for governor because I believe that we can solve these problems, because we know how to do it, and for the first time in decades, we have the resources to tackle our toughest issues and prepare for the future,” she said.

Kemp has yet to unveil his proposals for a second term, promising plans soon.

Abrams said she would seek to bolster Georgia’s weak tenant protections by requiring that leases guarantee that the premises will be habitable and by providing a waiting period before a tenant could be evicted.

She also would expand state assistance for down-payments for first-time homebuyers, require that housing built using the federal Low Income Housing Tax Credit serve some households with very low incomes and let local governments offer property tax breaks on affordable housing.

Abrams said she would give local governments the power to inspect rental units and enforce rental safety codes, let local governments use fees assessed on developers to pay for affordable housing, and create a fund to keep households whose property taxes are rapidly increasing because of increasing property values from being priced out of gentrifying neighborhoods.

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