John O’Callaghan, President & CEO of ANDP: “Increasing Our Scale to Meet Atlanta’s Affordable Housing Crisis”

John O’Callaghan, President & CEO of Atlanta Neighborhood Development Partnership (ANDP), delivered the keynote presentation at the March 6 Transform Westside Summit. Addressing the ongoing efforts of ANDP and its partners to create an equal-opportunity housing market for all Atlantans, O’Callaghan spoke passionately about the affordable housing crisis in Atlanta, connecting the dots between the racist housing practices of the Jim Crow era and the disproportionate impact of the housing crisis on communities of color today.

John O’Callaghan, President & CEO, Atlanta Neighborhood Development Partnership (ANDP) speaks at the March 6 Transform Westside Summit about the current state of affordable housing in Atlanta.

“Home ownership creates economic opportunity and generational wealth,” says O’Callaghan, “and generational wealth is very important.”

Telling the story of how his father, a white World War II veteran, was able to take advantage of federal programs that allowed participants to become home owners while receiving federally-backed low interest rates on loans, O’Callaghan acknowledged that he benefited from the impact of such opportunities. O’Callaghan’s parents were able to help pay his way through Georgia Tech and provide him with emergency financial assistance when he found himself and his own family in need. However, the same government programs that benefitted O’Callaghan’s family discriminated against African Americans, refusing to grant federally-backed loans for homes in neighborhoods with even one African American resident.

Speaking directly about the legacy and ongoing reality of racism in Atlanta’s housing market, O’Callaghan states, “The root of racial disparities in home ownership and neighborhood choice go back to Jim Crow, yes, even to slavery.”

O’Callaghan continues, “Housing determines whether you’re a part of the community and you can live there, or you do not have choice and you have to go somewhere else.”

When laying out the realities families of color and those with low income face in today’s housing market, O’Callaghan asks frankly, “Who is surprised that we still see these inequities today? I’m not.”

However, O’Callaghan and ANDP aren’t waiting for history to correct itself. Instead, the organization and its leadership are working to build as many high-quality affordable housing units as quickly as possible throughout Atlanta while creating a fast and practical path for families and individuals to move in. One of the organization’s main goals is to contribute to wealth generation through home ownership. The 215 ANDP home buyers who have remained in their homes for five years or more accumulated a combined $19 million of wealth between 2008 to 2018.

“All of us have to do more because the (housing) needs are greater than what we are producing today.”

Click to view ANDP CEO John O’Callaghan and Senior Vice President of Real Estate, Tayani Suma, speak at the March 6 Transform Westside Summit.