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For Westside Atlanta homeowners, city unveils means to combat gentrification

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New Anti-Displacement Tax Fund Program available for English Avenue, Vine City residents and their neighbors

Images of the revitalized Vine City Park in Atlanta.
The revitalized Vine City Park is one sign of progress in communities just west of downtown, where property values are ballooning.
Photos: Park Pride

In the elongating shadow of Mercedes-Benz Stadium, just west of Northside Drive, the real estate market is dotted with dilapidated, sub-$50,000 fixer-uppers and remodels north of $400,000 that tout proximity to the forthcoming Beltline.

That disparity creates a pinch. Especially with home prices in the vicinity of the Westside Trial doubling (and tax bills subsequently ballooning) in the last two years alone, as Atlanta Agent Magazine notes.

There may be no panacea, but the City of Atlanta has launched an initiative meant to help people burdened by the effects of gentrification and economic growth in neighborhoods just west of downtown.

The city is partnering with the nonprofit Westside Future Fund to launch what’s being called the Anti-Displacement Tax Fund Program, Mayor Kasim Reed announced last week.

The initiative will pay any property tax increases for qualified homeowners in Vine City, English Avenue, Ashview Heights, and Atlanta University Center communities. It’s designed to ensure that rising property values—the result of public and private investments these communities have been starved for—don’t force out current homeowners who can’t handle the burden of increased taxes.

Residents won’t have to pay back any funds received.

The application process is open until March 15, 2018, and payouts will begin sometime in the 2018 tax year, officials said.

Reed credited Tim Keane, Atlanta's Department of Planning and Community Development Commissioner, with helping shape the program based on his experiences in Charleston with a similar initiative.

“The Department of Planning and Community Development is committed to achieving sustainable growth in Atlanta’s Westside neighborhoods,” said the planning czar in a press release. “As part of that sustainable growth, we must have programs and policies in place to ensure affordable housing and offer housing incentives and resources to our residents who need them the most.”

Money to help with Westside tax bills is being sourced from philanthropic donations. Contributors cited by the city include: the Arthur M. Blank Family Foundation; the Chick-fil-A Foundation; the Georgia Power Foundation; Cox Enterprises; Pulte Group; Delta Air Lines; Georgia-Pacific and individual contributor Tommy Holder, chairman and CEO of Holder Construction Company.

Mercedes-Benz Stadium

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