Affordable housing in Atlanta? Think DomestiCITY

Source: WGCL

Ever since the BeltLine chief lost his job last summer because the fight over affordable housing rose up and bit him, I've been talking to lots of people who want to make housing better for people with a lot less money than the rest of us.

They are excited about a contest to design affordable spaces for the hardest to house Atlantans.

Last fall the City of Atlanta launched a contest for innovation in public housing. Planning Commissioner Tim Keane named it DomestiCITY. They found partners and money for a design competition that began with an infamous old motel on the South Side of town.

Before you say No-Tell Motel, wait. Maybe it USED to be a prostitution haven. Today, it's an SRO, a Single Room Occupancy. The waiting list is long. I hear SRO's are popular for people when they're able and stable enough to leave a homeless shelter.

SRO's are popular because they can be a community, if people stick around, stay in treatment, obey the rules. Plus, Atlanta and most cities have plenty of unraveling motels on the edges of town. Our grandparents if they were fortunate probably stayed in them on the way to Florida or Chicago back in the day.

But SRO's can get worn down when the caseworkers are distant, the management scrimps on maintenance, or too many won't follow the rules.

The city is betting a re-design can raise the living standards of the 150 people who call the Santa Fe home. Residents said they wanted room for a garden, and didn't want the rent to go up.

The contest brought designers to the Santa Fe from 15 countries, 189 designers. Now, it’s down to the final six.

The winning ideas are doubling the number of people, turning thin asphalt parking into gardens and playgrounds and putting social service caseworkers in the buildings in front.

Copyright 2018 WGCL-TV (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.

Investigative Reporter

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