- The City of Atlanta's economic development authority, Invest Atlanta, has created a $15 million transit-oriented development fund.
- The pilot fund will help provide low-interest, long-term loans to private and nonprofit affordable housing developers to support building housing near transit, including rail and streetcar lines.
- The fund will include $4.5 million of City of Atlanta Housing Opportunity Bond financing. The projects supported through the pilot project are expected to attract additional sources of capital for future funding.
The Atlanta metro area is huge, at 5.8 million people, while the city itself only houses about 475,000. The sprawl has contributed to residents being car dependent, leading to Atlanta's notorious traffic congestion. Rents are also up, which can contribute to people pushing out to more reasonable parts of the suburbs.
Invest Atlanta estimates that about 70% of residents in the metro region commute to a different county for work, "which affects the productivity and economic output of our workforce," Eloisa Klementich, president and CEO of Invest Atlanta, said in a statement. "Lowering a worker’s commute time by just one hour per week can effectively increase that worker’s wages by almost $1,000 annually."
Atlanta passed a massive transit expansion plan earlier this month, and the Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority (MARTA) is expected to approve a commuter rail line through some southern suburbs. Both initiatives focus a lot of attention on bringing transit to underserved portions of the region, such as the southern part of the city and southern suburbs, both to improve residents' mobility and drive economic development. The new transit-oriented development fund should complement those efforts and provide greater opportunity for affordable housing developments.