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Atlanta Housing Authority files lawsuit to keep land for affordable housing

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The Atlanta Housing Authority (AHA) recently filed a suit to keep 100 acres of publicly owned land available for affordable housing instead of going to The Integral Group for significantly below-market prices.

According to AHA, the land is currently valued at $138 million and could be sold for $17 million in a secret deal that favors The Integral Group and goes against the AHA’s mission to provide affordable housing for low-income residents in the city, the organization argues in the lawsuit.

“The Atlanta Housing Authority is not a land bank for private developers to purchase land at rock-bottom prices,” said Catherine Buell, president and CEO of AHA. “Affordable housing is disappearing at alarming rates, and allowing a private developer to purchase our land to build condos for the wealthy exacerbates the housing crisis and pushes low-income residents even further to the margins of our city. AHA’s goal is to be the engine for affordable housing and community development in the City of Atlanta. This suit is intended to make sure we accomplish that mission.”

The Integral Group CEO Egbert Perry told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution in March that it planned on making market-rate developments, not affordable housing options for lower-income residents. Also, Perry criticized the AHA, saying that the mixed-use developments helped transform Atlanta and that the AHA owes the company the deal because of the value it has created around the city.

“They don’t realize what’s there is because of what we did. Not what the authority did. What we did,” Perry said to the AJC.

Robert Rumley, chairman of the AHA Board of Commissioners, says the current land value is more from the increased demand to live in close-in communities and from public investment in amenities like the Atlanta BeltLine as opposed to previous development efforts.

“While The Integral Group and previous AHA leadership played a vital role in alleviating concentrations of poverty, current market values have more to do with market trends and where people choose to live,” Rumley said. “AHA cannot and will not relinquish more than $100 million in land just because a private developer thinks he is entitled.”

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