Just weeks after SunTrust Banks announced it would be merging with BB&T and relocating its headquarters from Atlanta to Charlotte, the company gifted the Westside Future Fund a $5 million grant to help grow affordable housing options and expand job opportunities in Westside neighborhoods.
SunTrust CEO Bill Rogers said the grant donation had already been planned before the banking giants announced consolidation, and he promised the Westside will continue to receive money after SunTrust relocates, according to the Atlanta Business Chronicle.
The grant money will be used to expand the affordable housing footprint and grow jobs and business opportunities in the most vulnerable Westside areas—English Avenue, Vine City, Ashview Heights, the Atlanta University Center, Just Us, and Booker T. Washington, according to a SunTrust press release.
Currently, of the roughly 1,600 households within those neighborhoods, half of the residents earn less than $20,000 a year, making it virtually impossible for them to afford decent housing. Officials said $3 million of the grant will be earmarked for affordable housing initiatives, and the remaining $2 million will fund economic development focused on small businesses and entrepreneurs.
SunTrust and the Westside Future Fund are also working together on the Quest 2020 mixed-use community being developed at the corner of Joseph E. Boone and Joseph E. Lowery boulevards in Vine City.
The banking company provided nearly $6 million in tax credits to progress the $30 million live-work-play project, which will include the 26,000-square-foot Nonprofit Center for Change.
The Center for Change’s stated main goal will be to connect nonprofits “to increase access to healthy foods and critical complementary services to local residents.”