Can city build public housing better than private developer? - CBS46 News

Can city build public housing better than private developer?

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(Source: WGCL) (Source: WGCL)
ATLANTA (CBS46) -

Does anybody think the city can do a better job building public housing than a private developer? That's the question behind a deal gone sour to help low income residents in Atlanta find a decent place to live.

Nobody's fighting over how bad it used to be, as Grady Homes was scary bad, distressed and crime ridden until a group of developers led by Egbert Perry made a deal with the Atlanta Housing Authority. They tore it down, built some of it back and remained it Auburn Pointe.

"You curate the mix," says Perry. "You decide you want a certain percentage of affordable, a certain percentage of workforce market, so that if you left it to the marketplace, we've seen what unabated gentrification looks like."

Perry's deal in 2011 included an option for Perry to control some of the now-empty land without building public housing on it, land that is worth much more today than when the deal was struck. He's ready to go, but the Housing Authority now wants out of the deal and wants more public housing.

The Housing Authority says Perry's deal is "unreasonable, grossly unfair, and abhorrent to good morals and conscience."

Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed goes further, naming the deal unlawful, unethical and untenable.

Perry countersued, blaming the Housing Authority's management for Atlanta's shortage of affordable housing. New Housing Authority leader Catherine Beutel won't talk about the pending lawsuit, but she has an important reminder. 

"People have to keep in mind that we did go through a financial crisis, and that did hamper our ability to move forward with some of our projects," says Beutel.

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