What we want:
Athens should begin implementing a suite of policies to ensure that every Athenian has access to high-quality housing at a price they can afford. These might include:
- Creating a Housing First Initiative to combat homelessness by providing housing to the unhoused
- Passing an Inclusionary Zoning Ordinance to require new apartment complexes to have a certain percentage of units priced affordably for low-income families
- Removing minimum square footage requirements to allow for tiny houses
- Implementing requirements for new construction to reflect the scale of surrounding housing stock, rather than simply increasing the current setbacks
- Pursuing a tax credit option for builders who retain an original or historic structure as part of their plans.
- Creating or expanding tax allocation districts
- Pursuing local historic designations in Athens’ in-town, traditionally African-American neighborhoods
- Expanding investment in publicly-owned and managed rental units
- Or something else the new A4E Affordable Housing Initiative comes up with.
- Reduced homelessness. No one should live on the street unless they want to. An aggressive push to provide housing for the homeless could significantly mitigate this human rights crisis occurring in our community.
- More housing security. Families and individuals with access to affordable housing avoid the strain of having to worry about whether they can make the rent, whether they’ll be evicted, or whether they’ll end up without a home.
- More economic security. When families don’t have to devote an excessive portion of their resources to paying for housing, they have more left over for the myriad other financial needs of the poor, working class, and middle class in our society.
- More economic development. Those who can afford their housing can spend more money into the rest of the local economy.
The political situation:
The recent moratorium on new student apartment complexes downtown represents a belated first step toward addressing the growing affordable housing problem in Athens. The A4E Affordable Housing Initiative is just getting off the ground and is crafting their plan to ensure that Athens takes the necessary steps to guarantee affordable housing for all its residents.