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Atlanta Beltline housing prices spur downtown protest

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Hundreds picketed Atlanta City Hall to decry ballooning costs of homes, apartments

A single-family community called “The Farmhouses at Ormewood Park” rises earlier this year along the Beltline’s Southside Trail corridor. Developers said in early 2017 home prices would start in the $600,000s.
A single-family community called “The Farmhouses at Ormewood Park” rises earlier this year along the Beltline’s Southside Trail corridor. Developers said in early 2017 home prices would start in the $600,000s.
Curbed Atlanta

When it comes to the affordability crisis impacting cities across the country, various recent studies and an in-house poll of local renters would suggest Atlanta has escaped the extreme housing crunch that’s squeezing, say, San Franciscans and New Yorkers.

But try telling that to fed-up Atlantans who recently picketed City Hall.

According to 11Alive, hundreds of protestors angered by rising housing costs marched around Atlanta City Hall on Friday with pointed words for one aspect of their changing city in particular: the Beltline.

Housing advocate Karmiah Dillard told the news station the Beltline has “displaced a ton of people” and failed to live up to promises, while others chanted about unity and waved banners proclaiming housing a basic human right.

The scene outside Atlanta City Hall on Friday.
11Alive

The message echoes recent criticism of development practices by Atlanta City Councilwoman Joyce Sheperd, among others, and the community backlash stemming from plans for the redevelopment of the Turner Field area, which resulted in a resident-led tent city last year—a move developers decried as a publicity stunt, as the AJC reported.

Affordability concerns have, of course, spelled real consequences for the Beltline—most notably, the resignation of CEO Paul Morris last year.

But not all news has been bleak.

Bright spots of designated Beltline affordable housing have been popping up in Adair Park, Capitol View, Reynoldstown, and even Old Fourth Ward. Meanwhile, the Beltline’s newest leader, Brian McGowan, said in June the project’s long-held goal of dotting the 22-mile loop with 5,600 affordable units is too meager.

McGowan called for 10,000 affordable residences—or about 8,500 more than what’s been created thus far.

But McGowan is set to take an economic development job in Seattle next month, so it remains to be seen how, or if, his ambitions will carry over.