Housing policy analysis Essay

policy / housing / georgia / house / city / income / atlanta

Title: Georgia state policy on housing

Georgia state policy on housing is subject to the plan entitled “Great Housing in Great Neighborhoods” issued in November 2006 by the Affordable Workforce Housing Implementation Task Force. In 2006 the Atlanta City Council aimed at the development of a new policy targeting city assistance based on household incomes.

Policy background

Current Situation

Any program that aims to provide an assistance to create the affordable workforce housing is guided by the criteria that consider income levels of the households subject to aid. These criteria are therefore widely applied to designate the rental or sales price of the units providing that the developer is assisted, or used to designate who is eligible to apply if the aid is provided directly to a homeowner or renter accordingly.

The plan prepared by the Affordable Workforce Housing Implementation Task Force established in fall 2005 on Mayor Franklin’s initiative. Due endeavour is part of the implementation of the Mayor’s Economic Development Plan objective to create 10,000 units of workforce housing by 2009.

The implementation of this plan consists of three core stages:

  • Creation of a land assemblage fund;
  • Creation of a new fund for affordable housing programs; and
  • Development of an inclusionary zoning ordinance.

The program plan includes the thoroughly thought options for the mentioned areas efficient implementation. Furthermore, the best community practices of the past are rigidly analyzed and potential legal obstacles are taken into account. In addition to this, the initiatives within the context of the plan are backed up with relevant research background.

Specifications and proportions of allocated funds for new income targeting policy make up an indispensable component of the plan to be applied in consistence with the local programs.

The offered strategies comprise the core of the state policy. The establishment of revolving loan called ‘Housing Opportunity Fund’ is aimed to fund a vast variety of affordable housing programs. At that, the compatibility with the requirements for awards retrieved from a housing trust fund allocated with proceeds from BeltLine Tax Allocation District bonds will be ensured.

Further on, the program aims to develop a voluntary inclusionary zoning ordinance that requires an affordable housing set-aside of 10% of units in developments with more than 10 units, assuming the allowance of 20% density bonus, including the reduced permitting fees and tax abatements.

A 30-year stipulation on owner-occupied units enables the City to claim first refusal for repurchase, as well as conclude scale shared appreciation agreements between the owner and the City.

In addition to the abovementioned strategic initiatives, the Plan aims to allow a land assemblage financing loan program to support the developers in search of building affordable housing.

Herewith, the loan loan-to-value ratio will comprise approximately 120%.  The City’s partnership with the Land Bank Authority enables the hold of land designated for clear up title issues and affordable housing tax-free schemes.

In its core the Plan is grounded on the basis of the following guiding principles that form the background for all the related decisions as well as recommendations and initiatives to be accordingly implemented. Therefore the promotion of the following policies and programs are defined as prioritized by the Task Force:

  • Enablement of affordable maintenance options to meet a wide range of income levels;
  • Creation of differentiated mixed income communities to ensure long-term sustainability, and avoid the concentration of poverty and building of the “all-affordable” developments
  • Enablement of citywide affordability to preserve neighbourhoods through the rehabilitation of existing units
  • Enablement of sound transit functions to reduce car flow; and
  • Enablement of family-oriented mix combining both small households and large households.

Considering the abovementioned, the affordable Workforce Housing Priorities are as follows:

  • The establishment of current demand for affordable workforce housing;
  • The development of targeting policy to ensure the consistent application of all relevant programs which income rate adheres to the target levels;
  • The development of inclusionary zoning ordinance to be approved by the City Council;
  • The establishment of a “Housing Opportunity Fund” equivalent to $75 million to be invested into the development of new affordable housing as well as subsidizing of  existing units;
  • Leverage the $250 million BeltLine Housing Trust Fund to expand the impact of the programs; and
  • The establishment of a land assemblage financing program to meet the opportunities of affordable housing development to utilize Land Bank Authority empowered to reduce holding costs.

            Considering the current situation, the Task Force holds few concerns to be addressed.

Firstly, city policy excludes smaller households that are occupied by social workers such as police officers, fire-fighters, nurses, teachers, etc. whose income normally exceeds $40,000, though they cannot afford home on their own without external assistance. Hence, the City assists such families and households of all sizes according to the implemented policies.

Secondly, city policy cannot prevent “floating to the top” of income ranges considering the application of subsidies. At that, the developers apply range of incomes in line with the program requirements and the price of units is then aligned with the highest possible income level allowed. Most importantly, any new city policy should ensure the effective mechanism that would include all parts of the income range when City subsidy is involved.

Under no conditions city policy should face the risk of “setting families up for failure”. In due respect,  it would be inappropriate policy that would set people up for failure through subsidizing a housing situation which lacks financial sustainability and could harm the household’s ability to secure housing as well as future credit record.

Consequently, the new city policy in Atlanta GA will be applied to the programs where the City is free to change the income ranges. Hence, it is of ultimate importance to take into account that all programs that involve the use of federal or state funds which parameters cannot be altered - will not become a subject to the consequent change. The primary new programs subject to due policy is the City’s new inclusionary zoning proposal as well as the Housing Opportunity Fund assistance programs.

The Task Force has also developed the plan to advance HEZ/UEZ programs as well as the BeltLine TAD, which are examples of the areas wherein policy changes can improve consistency.



Affordable Workforce Housing Implementation Task Force “Great Housing in Great Neighborhoods”, Executive Summary of Recommendations, November 2006, Final Report, Atlanta GA, Retrieved January 24, 2009 from http://www.atlantaga.gov/client_resources/government/planning/housing/awh%20task%20force%20detailed%20findings%20november%202006.pdf





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