Today, Westside Future Fund (WFF) launched the application process for its Home on the Westside program as part of its commitment to community retention. Home on the Westside has been developed to ensure that current residents can benefit from revitalization efforts in the Historic Westside community. Priority for these for-sale and rental residences, on property assembled by WFF, is for families with historic connections to the neighborhoods.
The WFF board of directors adopted community retention guidelines for families living within WFF’s geographic footprint, which touches the English Avenue, Vine City, Ashview Heights, Atlanta University Center, Booker T. Washington and Just Us neighborhoods. Applications from residents in these neighborhoods will receive highest priority for Home on the Westside properties, followed by those who work in the community, those who formerly lived there, families in Atlanta’s Washington Cluster schools, and households that currently spend 50% or more of their net income on housing.
Via Home on the Westside, WFF announced that it has acquired more than 80 vacant lots and abandoned homes and more than 200 multi-family rental units. The comprehensive Home on the Westside program is in alignment with the Westside Land Use Framework plan. Development of the properties will occur in phases, with the renovation of approximately 20 single family homes and 80 apartment units to begin in late 2019 with occupancy slated for mid-2020. The timeline partially depends on the speed of permitting, the adoption of a new zoning ordinance by the Atlanta City Council, and the pool of interested and qualified residents.
Delivering quality, affordable housing is one of the four impact strategies for WFF, along with safety and security, cradle-to-career educational opportunities and community health and wellness.
“The One Atlanta: Housing Affordability Action Plan outlines a pathway to affordable and equitable housing opportunities for all who desire to call Atlanta home. The Westside Future Fund’s “Home on the Westside” represents a powerful example of the power of public-private partnerships to deliver housing affordability,” said Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms. “The fruits of this thoughtful and intentional planning, which brought together diverse stakeholders, will result in a city where all residents—regardless of their income, background or status—can thrive as Atlanta continues to attract development.”
The properties acquired by the Westside Future Fund were purchased through a combination of philanthropic donations, impact capital from community-minded investors, and in-kind contributions from the City of Atlanta. To date, WFF has received $6 million in free land, vacant buildings and HomeFlex rental assistance from Invest Atlanta and Atlanta Housing. Other partners advancing the initiative include the Fulton County Land Bank Authority, Atlanta Police Foundation, On the Rise Financial Center, CHRIS 180, and Quest Community Development Organization.
Michael Julian Bond, Atlanta City-Councilman at-large and a longtime supporter of the Historic Westside, said, “This announcement marks the beginning of a transformation that I’ve dreamed about for many years,” he said. “This is my childhood neighborhood—a place that once again can inspire promise and possibilities to a new generation. The momentum behind this effort makes me extremely proud of my city and very hopeful for its future.”
District 3 Councilman Antonio Brown said he has a unique appreciation for the community retention issues that Westside Future Fund is trying to address with Home on the Westside. “Most residents in this district are dealing with rapidly climbing rental rates that threaten their ability to stay where they’ve lived for years. This Home on the Westside program, along with the Anti-Displacement Tax Fund for legacy homeowners, is helping to restore trust and hope to people who have long felt under-appreciated and overlooked.”
The growing popularity of intown living has made Atlanta’s Westside a desirable acquisition target for real estate speculators whose interests have driven up land values and associated rental rates. Many of the legacy residents in these communities have not had comparable wage increases, so they struggle to stay in their homes, much less purchase a new one in the area. On the Rise Financial Resource Center, one of WFF’s impact partners, provides individualized financial literacy training and resources to prepare Historic Westside residents to reverse that trend.
“Our mission aligns perfectly with the WFF mission,” said Anna Foote, southeastern regional director for On the Rise. “It’s gratifying to help families with limited resources gain the tools they need to work toward the dream of home ownership. We look forward to supporting families on the Historic Westside to help them become first-time homeowners.”
Applications for Home on the Westside can be requested three ways: in-person at the WFF Leasing Office: 515 Rhodes Street NW (the former Villas at the Dome location); by calling 470.377.1696 or through email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
“Opening up the application process today is exciting, as it shows us leaning into our goal of community retention and stability,” said John Ahmann, president and CEO of the WFF. “From the hard-working residents earning minimum wage to the fixed-income retired residents to the nurses or police officers who want to live close to work—this program provides quality affordable housing for all of them near newly developed assets like Cook Park and Katherine Johnston Memorial Park.”