Atlanta mayor proposes rezoning plan to make housing more affordable

Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms wants to see affordable housing units across the city of Atlanta.

Just this month she announced a proposal to rezone the city, not geographically, but through regulations.

The city's planning and development commissioner told FOX 5's Alex Whittler the mayor’s administration is determined to undo years of redlining and believes this proposal is the best way to do it.

There are nearly 500,000 people in the city of Atlanta and leaders want to see the population increase.

"We're a small city in a big region. Atlanta needs more people, including people to pay taxes," Commissioner Tim Keane said Tuesday.

The mayor's administration said more housing in Atlanta will lower costs for many living here.

"This is something that touches everyone. The recommendations we're making are perfect for Atlanta because they're appropriate to each neighborhood," he said.

"Many apartments in Atlanta have three, four, five, six units... but we made them illegal over time," Keane said.

Keane said the goal is to undo decades of redlining or systemic denial of services from government agencies.

"It used to be that there were a bunch of different kinds of buildings in Atlanta but through zoning, we excluded a lot of them," Keane said.

In a statement, Mayor Bottoms said, "We are taking bold actions to reverse these policies and close the homeownership gap and rental affordability for legacy residents of Atlanta.”

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This is one of several of the mayor's efforts to push for housing equity. In 2017, she campaigned on a $1 billion fund for affordable housing, and just Tuesday, her office announced an executive order investing $50 million to create and preserve 20,000 affordable homes by 2026.

Keane said under the mayor's proposed plan, new and retrofitted buildings in all neighborhoods, from Midtown to southwest Atlanta, will allow more people to move to the city and afford to stay here.

The commissioner said Buckhead, for example, could use more affordable housing.

"It could be in a garage behind the house, or it could be the basement, but you could get a second unit that allows someone that has less income to live there but also helps the homeowner because they can rent this second unit. It helps affordability in many ways," the commissioner said.

Right now, this is just a proposal that would require the city council to approve five or six zoning amendments, but Bottoms' administration vows changes will not cost taxpayers and would strengthen the local economy.

The commissioner said he anticipates this plan will be contentious but well worth the conversations. Residents can give city leaders their thoughts as soon as next Wednesday during a public comment meeting. It’s the first of several in this process.

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