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Healthcare workers tackle the city’s affordable housing crisis

This is what the McAuley station is aiming for.

This complex, on Gartrell Street SE, will be nestled next to Mercy Care’s clinic and headquarters and will resemble many of the new apartment complexes that have sprung up in Atlanta. There will be a rooftop terrace with panoramic views, resident lounges, a fitness room and a business center. The resort will also be one block from the King Memorial MARTA station. The total development cost for these 170 units will be approximately $52 million.

But the cost of renting is much lower than at these high-end resorts: Most rents for tenants will range from $850 to $1,400 per month, on average.

McAuley Station could be a glimpse of the next trend in affordable housing as hospitals have started to take more interest in housing. Kathryn Lawler, CEO of Saint Joseph Health System, said she hopes other Atlanta-area hospitals follow suit.

Lawler estimated that Fulton and DeKalb counties alone spend about $11 billion on health care, but have significant disparities, especially among residents of color. But healthcare is proven to be only a small part of what helps a person stay healthy.

“This is a modern 21st century answer to an age-old question: how do we ensure that the most vulnerable have access to this healthcare and the ability to thrive as well?” Lawler said.

Amon Martin, regional vice president of Pennrose, the developer of McAuley Station, said the new complex’s location and proximity to a transit station are key to improving the lives of future residents.

“This development is really more important than health care and housing,” he said. “It really meets all those needs.”

Rendering of McAuley Station

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Rendering of McAuley Station

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That said, some housing experts have questioned the need to make units available for a one-person household earning up to $54,000 a year.

Construction is expected to take approximately 22 months, with an expected opening in February 2024. Then there is the next phase of the project: the construction of 82 units designed for senior residents. This construction should start in 2024.

The project is funded by co-opting money from several pots: including bonds from Invest Atlanta, the city’s economic development authority; private equity from Truist Bank; a loan from Trinity Health Care; and Saint Joseph’s paid $4.37 million for the project’s shared parking lot.

Mayor Dickens has pledged to build or preserve 20,000 affordable homes over the next eight years. Other politicians have also tried to stem the housing crisis. Former mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms wanted to invest $1 billion towards a similar goal of 20,000 units by 2026. She reached 7,000 units built with over $700 million.

So far, Dickens has made progress. According to his officethe city marked the completion of more than 1,200 affordable housing units and began construction on more than 4,000 units this year.

Even so, there is still a long way to go before housing in Georgia is accessible to everyone, especially those on the lowest incomes. According to the National Low Income Housing Coalition, 24% of renter households have extremely low incomes and there is a shortfall of 207,244 rental units available for those lowest income earners, who earn a maximum of $26,200 for a 4-person household.

The McAuley station will have about 30 units for low-income people who earn only 30% of the region’s average income, or a maximum of $20,250 per year. These units are funded by Partners for Home and Atlanta Housing and are for residents in need of support services.

Mercy Care will have a head lease on ten of the units, which are temporary units for homeless patients awaiting permanent housing.

Most of the complex is simply affordable housing.

Most of the units, 101 of them, will be available to renters who earn 60% of the area’s median income. This means that a one-person household can earn up to $40,500 per year and a two-person household can earn up to $46,320 per year.

Another 29 units are still below market rate, but are for high-income earners who earn 80% of the area’s median income, which means a one-person household can earn up to $54,000 a year. year and a two-person household can earn up to $61,760 per year. .

Andrew Aurand, vice president of research for the National Commission on Low Income Housing, said he was delighted that a project like this included 30 units for some very low income people, and that they follow a proven housing model for these units. . He questioned the need to invest in some of the resort’s high-end units, where tenants can earn 80% of the area’s media revenue.

“If you look at market rents, that need is often met by looking elsewhere. What is never satisfied are the needs of [lowest income renters],” he said.