The demand for affordable housing has increased with inflation and median rents passing the $2,000 a month mark for the first time ever in May. Georgia has also felt the economic pressures with a reported 14.9% bump in rental costs since June 2021. Democratic gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams has put together a plan to make things easier for Georgia residents to buy and rent housing, Axios reports.
As her website explains, Abrams’s plan is centered around five pillars. This includes expanding inventory, supporting the homeless, and protecting against gentrification.
- Funding the Affordable Housing Trust Fund at ten times the current level (an increase from $3M to $32M)
- Prioritizing veterans, disabled, and formerly incarcerated individuals facing housing instability or homelessness.
- Banning discrimination against renters based on their source of income
- Giving tax incentives to landlords for making safety and energy-efficiency improvements to their property
- Creating a permanent Emergency Rental Assistance fund
- Expanding the Georgia Dream Homeownership Program to help first-time home buyers with down payments, education, and closing costs
This comprehensive plan outlined by Abrams will not require a tax hike as per her campaign. Abrams has previously stated she would hold landlords deemed predatory accountable if she were to win the governor’s race in November. Specifically, she would provide inspectors more leeway going after out-of-stage tech companies and hedge funds from buying up housing developments and raising prices.
“We have so many units that are dilapidated, that are unsafe,” Abrams said. “And because of the conflation of state laws that say you have to do one thing but don’t give anyone the ability to enforce it, what happens is we end up in this endless cycle of dilapidated housing and families that are put in unsafe conditions.”
There’s also the question of housing funds provided in the American Rescue Plan. Abrams’s housing plan would jumpstart the distribution of $450 million in “unspent emergency rental assistance funds.” Abrams has criticized Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp for not moving them out faster to help ailing citizens.
As the Associated Press notes, this money has still not been spent. Gov. Kemp stated he had provided $100 million in federal American Rescue Plan funds last year to support nonprofits that help people find affordable housing in a press release in May.
“The governor is sitting on $450 million that could at least stem the tide of evictions that are sweeping the state,” Abrams said during an online briefing about her plan.