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Turner Field Development's Not-So-Affordable Housing Future

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[In red, the income cap for those who want a piece of The Ted area's future "affordable" housing. Graphic: Jason Flynn, Curbed]

In August 2013, Mayor Kasim Reed promised the redevelopment of Turner Field would yield "one of the largest developments for middle-class people that the city has ever had," but that vision may ultimately leave behind nearby residents, especially those with the greatest need, according to key paperwork. One consistent demand from local advocacy groups has been the inclusion of affordable mixed-income housing in any new project. The Request for Proposals released last week, which outlines the city's expectations for prospective developers, does include a recommendation for mixed-income housing but not without a number of interesting caveats. This is the government, after all.

A footnote in the RFP lays out the city's minimum expectations for any development proposal, that "at least 10 percent of the proposed residential units will be made affordable to households earning a maximum of 80 percent of the Area Median Income."

Now, that is all unfathomably boring, but it's also extremely important for current and potential residents.

For one thing, there isn't any recommendation as to the size of a residential component. In fact, there's the opposite. Any mention of new housing is preceded or followed by the words, "to the extent residential is a component," implying that proposals may not include new housing options. If there are options, only 10 percent of them need to be affordable, so, barring some super-mega residential complex — to the tune of 2,000 units or more, which is massive; Buckhead Atlanta has 370 total — there might not be much availability.

Tucked away below that is what, to most people, is just a long series of acronyms (because nothing is allowed to be easy). Those are all there to outline the maximum income of would-be tenants in this dream project, which is $55,000 if we're rounding up. That number is pretty high if the goal is to assist local families in need by making housing affordable and available. It's so high because the city is using income figures from all of Metro Atlanta to set its rates. That's standard procedure for the city, which uses numbers provided by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, but it still creates a huge disadvantage for low-income families living inside the city.

That maximum number the city plans to use is based on the median income for all of Metro Atlanta, which is $68,000. The median income for the City of Atlanta, on the other hand, is $57,000. That's a huge difference, and it's just above that maximum number the city set.

So, instead of setting aside affordable housing for families in poverty, the city is essentially setting aside housing for half of the residents in Atlanta, and even more outside of the city.

The situation only looks worse if you isolate Summerhill (the neighborhood right around Turner Field). The median income in Summerhill is $47,000; without additional assistance the people closest to this middle-class Candy Land won't even be able to compete for the miniscule amount of housing available. They could be barred from their own neighborhood, in a sense, under the pressure of good intentions. And, not for the first time.

— By Curbed Atlanta contributor Jason Flynn

· Mayor set to talk Braves stadium [AJC]
· Atlanta, at a glance [Forbes]
· Hey, Atlanta, What Should Become of Turner Field? Vote Now! [Curbed]

Turner Field

755 Hank Aaron Drive SE, Atlanta, GA 30315 404 522 7630 Visit Website