IA Joins Inaugural Atlanta Housing Equity and Affordability Forum

Thursday, December 14, 2017

Invest Atlanta participated in the first Atlanta Housing Equity and Affordability Forum on Thursday, December 14 at The Gathering Spot. Hosted by the Atlanta Housing Authority (AHA), the event consisted of three panel discussions with leaders in affordable housing development and policy.

“We really hope that this will be the first of a series of discussions that we’ll have about how we address the affordability and equity issues here in the City of Atlanta in a thoughtful and inclusive way,” said Catherine Buell, CEO of the AHA.

Dawn Luke, Senior Vice President of Community Development at Invest Atlanta, sat on the day’s first panel, “The New Deal Makers: Emerging Developers and Public Innovators.” Joining her in conversation were Leonard Adams, founder of the Quest Community Development Organization, Inc., Kelly King of Oakwood Development, Brandon Riddick-Seals of the Atlanta Housing Authority’s Board of Commissioners, and Janis Ware, the Executive Director of Summech CDC.

The participants had a robust discussion about how smaller developers can look to build more affordable housing in our city. Luke shared some advice for those interested in the field.

“Always be accountable for what you’re going to do,” she said. “Because you are impacting people’s lives.”

She also spoke about Invest Atlanta’s emphasis on empowering developers that live in the Atlanta neighborhoods they serve.

“We had to, as an organization, step back and say, ‘How can we really help these developers that are committed to the community?” said Luke.

She informed the audience about a new pilot program Invest Atlanta called Community Builders. This program empowers participants to partner with Invest Atlanta on the organization’s work on the Westside. Over a 6-week period, participants will learn core property redevelopment skills, and cover topics like zoning and property selection. Once they complete the Community Builders program, these future developers be eligible to apply for funding assistance to support their own redevelopment projects.

Adams emphasized the importance of building partnerships between developers, financial backers, and the community to move projects forward.

“These deals don’t happen in a vacuum,” he said. “You talk to everybody to make the deal happen, and that includes the people on the ground all the way up to the funding sources.”