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Atlanta Has a New Affordable Housing Tool

Townhomes under construction along the Atlanta BeltLine (AP Photo/David Goldman)

Neighborhoods near the Atlanta BeltLine are gentrifying fast, and most of the affordable housing promised those areas has yet to materialize. Now, City Council has voted to try out a new tactic in pursuit of affordable rent — inclusionary zoning.

Inclusionary zoning policies — in which developers are required to set aside a certain portion of new housing for below-market rate units — are most popular in California, New Jersey and Massachusetts cities. In mandating that developers build a percentage of lower-cost units near the BeltLine and the Mercedes Benz Stadium, Atlanta will become the first city in Georgia to attempt the policy, WABE reports.

Going forward, developers will be able to choose between making 10 percent of their units affordable to residents earning 60 percent of the median income or 15 percent of their units affordable to residents earning 80 percent of the median income. Georgia law prohibits rent control, and outgoing mayor Kasim Reed hinted that state legislators may not take kindly to the new policy. Red state governments have taken to overruling blue city ordinances they don’t like in recent years.

WABE reports that Atlanta leaders are also trying out several other strategies to create more affordable housing. Reed recently announced the sale of the Civic Center to the Atlanta Housing Authority, and the city is partnering with business leaders to buy properties and keep their rents affordable, in a move that mirrors a similar Denver policy.