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Dyana Bagby Posted by on February 17, 2017.

Brookhaven affordable housing task force to issue recommendations

Brookhaven’s Affordable Housing Task Force wants to present its recommendations to City Council by April on how to ensure residential units and homes for working class residents and people living near the poverty line are included in future development.

The idea is to have the recommendations included in the city’s zoning rewrite, which is set to begin in the next few months.

Task Force Chair David Schaefer of the Latin American Association said aging apartment units on Buford Highway are expected to be sold in the near future. “There has to be some city intervention to make sure developers replace partially [the new development] with some affordable housing,” he said.

Task force members met Feb. 9 to get more input on what kind of regulations they would like to see the city implement to assure affordable housing continues to be made available as the city continues to see rapid development.

Task force members want to have input and provide guidance on how development along Buford Highway continues. They worry that current aging apartment complexes will be torn down and replaced, leaving the residents who live there, many of whom are immigrants, with no place to live.

Community Development Director Patrice Ruffin said Buford Highway “is a prime area for redevelopment” and the city could include a Buford Highway Overlay District as part of its zoning rewrite.

The task force could recommend that the overlay rules include a requirement that a certain number of affordable housing units be provided in new developments before any major projects are proposed, she said. Incentives, including tax incentives, could be offered to developers who provide affordable housing, members said.

“If you can structure the incentives the right way, so it is not a burden, then it can be a real incentive,” City Manager Christian Sigman said. “If they [developers] know coming in they have to do it [provide affordable housing], but that you will take care of them on the back end … it’s almost like a scholarship.”

The city is set to award soon a contract for the Peachtree Overlay District rewrite, which should take about six months to complete, Ruffin said. A contract for the full zoning rewrite is not expected to be issued for several more months and will likely take a year to complete.

Workforce housing, to include people on police and teacher salaries, is mentioned in the Brookhaven Peachtree Overlay District and members want to ensure affordable housing is not limited to just Buford Highway.

The U.S. government considers housing costs at or below 30 percent of one’s income to be affordable.

When the Task Force began in October, the city pulled data from the 2015 Georgia Power Community Profile that shows Brookhaven has an average household size of 3.15 people with 45 percent of those households having an income base below $49,999, indicating 45 percent of families in the city are low-income and between 14 to 20 percent are very low to extremely low-income households.

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