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Invest Atlanta's 2020 Vision calls for More People, Less Blight

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Blight, you'd better run and hide! Invest Atlanta, the city's economic development arm, released a new Housing Strategy today that calls for substantial changes to the residential fabric of Atlanta in the next few years. According to officials, a comprehensive strategy like this one hasn't happened in Atlanta for more than eight years. To compile the study and set their benchmarks, Invest Atlanta teamed with Enterprise Community Partners, a real estate investment services company, and HR&A Advisors. They analyzed demographic and housing data in Atlanta and took pointers for success from other cities. They reached out to housing stakeholders and attended "community engagement activities" to ensure "diverse voices were included" in the strategy, officials said. In a press release, Mayor Kasim Reed applauds the initiative, calling the strategy a "framework to ensure that current and prospective residents will have diverse and affordable housing options." It all sounds commendable, and the strategy's goals for the Atlanta of 2020 could be called ambitious.

In the grand scheme of things, the Invest Atlanta strategy aims to stamp out problems with affordability in the city and lift barriers to economic development. It calls for ...

Very specific goals:

· Reducing the number of vacant, blighted homes by 20 percent by 2020. Atlanta has roughly 227,000 units, and this calls for 1,500 of them to be eliminated or inhabited.

· Growing the City of Atlanta's population by 10 percent by 2020. They're aiming for 42,000 more people, which is based off of 2010 numbers. The city grew by 6.6 percent between then and 2013, per Census data. That means we're in the ballpark of 450,000 now.

· Reducing the number of Atlanta residents who spend more than 30 percent of their income on housing.

Not very specific:

· Creating a broad mix of housing choices throughout the City to serve a diverse population and workforce.

· Creating new financial resources, and improve existing ones, to help the City achieve its housing goals.

· (Establishing) diversity of housing types throughout the City, (allowing) seniors to age in place as they downsize and hedge against displacement through gentrification.

Dawn Luke, managing director of Housing Finance, said the strategy is a "comprehensive and practical approach to addressing these issues" that admittedly sets a high bar. "But with all stakeholders working together," she said, "it is well within our reach."

For endless urbanophile brain candy, a copy of the full strategy is right here.

· The complete strategy [Invest Atlanta]
· Study: Atlanta Apartments Still Relatively Affordable [Curbed Atlanta]
· Has Gentrification Run Amok in 'City On the Ascent'? [Curbed]