ARC’s Regional Housing Task Force Kickoff Meeting will be held Tuesday, February 20, from 11am – 1pm at the Georgia Municipal Association. ARC staffer, Sheryl Merritt sat down with Sam Shenbaga, ARC’s Community Development director, to learn more about the Task Force and to find out what attendees can expect by participating.
Q: What is the Regional Housing Task Force and why does ARC feel it’s necessary?
A: The Regional Housing Task Force was founded to create greater efficiencies and impact for housing affordability. ARC saw the potential benefits of bringing together housing practitioners from local municipalities to provide input and build engagement with partners.
The first year was more of a sounding board event – everyone met to exchange ideas. There was no other organization doing this from a regional perspective.
It morphed into a quarterly housing task force where we discussed what was happening in their jurisdictions and ARC presented tools and data available to support them. Topics were sourced from the participants.
Q: This is a kickoff meeting for the task force, but we know these meetings have been held previously. Why is this called a kick-off?
A: In 2019, we formalized the program, but with the pandemic in 2020, things slowed down. Since that time, a lot of people have changed roles. It’s the perfect time to have the relaunch on February 20.
At our first meeting of 2024, we’ll kick-off a round of conversations with a new ARC housing team, an expanded list of local partners, new policymakers, and staff at the local level.
Q: What’s coming up this year that will be innovative and exciting?
A: This year, ARC is excited to once again serve as a sounding board and place to convene. In 2024, we will update the Regional Housing Strategy, so we want to discuss it –- find out what may still be relevant and useful.
The last time we gathered, there were questions about whether there was a housing challenge. This time, we know that every participant will agree that we are in the midst of a crisis. We’ll ask participants about their affordability work in our region — to share best practices. We want to hear about their solutions.
There is so much funding coming from different levels of government – federal, state, county, city. Some of it is discretionary funding and allocated money for the region. New topics, like the conversion of offices into housing; low-income housing tax credits; zoning and land use; plus, other topics will be unpacked.
Q: Why should housing authority and city/county staff working in the housing disciplines attend? And tell me about some of the Task Force’s current partners.
A: Some of our local professionals are focusing on the challenges but not the solutions. The Task Force provides them an opportunity to get exposure to what’s happening across the region and to collaborate. It’s a group that will benefit from working with our partners – Atlanta Fed, Enterprise, ULI Atlanta, Atlanta Neighborhood Development Partnership, Georgia Conservancy, Atlanta Habitat for Humanity, House ATL and Georgia Department of Community Affairs.
Q: Can you share a little about the presentation “Housing at Its Core” report by KB Advisory that was commissioned by ULI Atlanta?
A: KB Advisory does a lot of data and analytic reporting that is beneficial to our work. Their “Housing at Its Core” report paints a picture of what we’ve done in the Atlanta region over the past seven years and talks about a way forward.
The report laid out the five ways to improve housing: increasing supply, raising awareness, and building leadership, preserving existing affordability, promoting housing stability and expanding capital resources. It acknowledges that cross-sector collaboration of public, private, nonprofit, and philanthropic entities are key.
What’s Next ATL, produced by the Atlanta Regional Commission, is a community resource that explores how metro Atlanta is growing and changing, and how the region is addressing its most pressing challenges.