Aug 3, 2022 - News

Stacey Abrams' plan to address affordable housing

Illustration of a welcome mat that is a one-hundred dollar bill.

Illustration: Maura Losch/Axios

Democratic candidate for governor Stacey Abrams wants to make buying and renting more affordable around Georgia.

Driving the news: Abrams released details of her plan, which she says will not require a tax hike:

  • Increasing the Affordable Housing Trust Fund from $3 million to $32 million
  • Expanding the Georgia Dream Homeownership Program to help first-time home buyers with down payments, education and closing costs
  • Banning discrimination against renters based on their source of income
  • Launching a fund to help lower-income residents defer tax payments as property values rise

Why it matters: Affordable housing has historically been a primary concern for advocates, low-income residents and a few politicians. Now that the cost to own and rent is becoming less affordable, the issue is drawing the attention of middle class residents who are feeling the squeeze.

  • The average monthly rent in Atlanta was $1,946 in June, a 14.9% increase since June 2021, according to Zillow's Observed Rent Index.
  • If you want to buy a home, you would have to earn nearly 40% more than a year ago to afford the region’s average home value, the latest analysis by real estate company Redfin shows.

What they're saying: The primary way to build wealth in this country is through home ownership, and rising costs threaten that path for many Georgians, Abrams said during a news briefing last week.

The other side: In a statement to Axios, Gov. Brian Kemp's campaign spokesperson Tate Mitchell said the governor has allocated $100 million in federal American Rescue Plan funds in the last year to support nonprofits that help people find affordable housing.

  • The state also manages a federally funded rental assistance program.

At least one advocate says Abrams' plan to increase the allocation to the Affordable Housing Trust Fund "would be a great start."

  • Michael Lucas, executive director of the Atlanta Volunteer Lawyers Foundation, which provides legal services to tenants facing eviction, also told Axios local proposals that have the backing of the community are often blocked at the state level.
  • "Local leaders are in the best position to determine local solutions, and if we care about addressing this issue, we have to allow them to innovate and problem solve," Lucas said.

Dan Immergluck, a professor at Georgia State University's Urban Studies Institute, told Axios he would like to see Abrams increase her proposed contribution to the Affordable Housing Trust Fund.

  • He also said there should be a proposal that would prevent developers and landlords who have high eviction rates from accessing federal low-income housing tax credits and that cities and counties should be able to implement their own rent control policies.

Immergluck told Axios Georgia should also enact stronger eviction protections for tenants and allow cities and counties to implement rent control policies.

  • "In very hot markets like the city of Atlanta, it would seem like a reasonable thing to at least consider, and it would seem like local governments should have the right to do that," he said.

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