In an effort to offer affordable housing among the skyrocketing rents and home prices in Sandy Springs, the city currently has two pilot programs with local apartment complexes. Since their implementation in 2018, the demand has proven to be high.
“The city … supports opportunities to provide a mix of housing alternatives attracting those who work in the city to also live here,” city spokesperson Sharon Kraun said.
While the city does not have inclusionary zoning, it has worked out a 10-year agreement with two apartment complexes requiring units be set aside for workforce housing. The agreements are intended to ensure housing for primarily middle-income, but also lower-income, households.
The city also has units and houses set aside for discounted rent for public safety personnel.
The North End Revitalization Task Force, which proposed redevelopment strategies earlier this year for the northern Roswell Road corridor, planned to produce a comprehensive affordable housing policy, but has not yet.
“A major component of the North End initiative is developing affordable, middle-class ownership housing,” Mayor Rusty Paul said. “That is our biggest housing gap right now.”
Paul also says the city is looking for more opportunities to add to its workforce housing inventory.
Two apartment complexes in the city offer workforce housing under city agreements: the Cliftwood at 185 Cliftwood Drive and The Hill at 1160 Johnson Ferry Road.
The management offices at each complex are required to submit compliance documents to the city in June and December of each year, Kraun said. The documents must include resident income eligibility, lease information and evidence of market-rate rent.
The city Community Development department oversees the documents and keeps track of the programs at each complex, according to Kraun.
The city also has discounted rental properties for public safety personnel at the Cliftwood as part of the zoning mandates, as well as four houses owned by the city on Hammond Drive.
All four houses are currently rented at $500 per month. Three are rented by employees of the police department and one by an employee of the fire department. The renter is responsible for upkeep of the property and utilities, Kraun said.
Houses on Hammond Drive bought in anticipation of a proposed project to widen Hammond between Roswell Road and Glenridge Drive are inspected for potential as a residence for public safety personnel. If needed repairs cost less than $15,000, the city will make the repairs and the house will be rented.
The affordability deal at the 251-unit Cliftwood apartment complex was required as part of a zoning case and was implemented upon opening in late 2018.
The agreement with the city will last 10 years and applies to 10 units, with three of the units required to be exclusively offered to public safety employees. The deal specifies that if the deal is broken, the city could prohibit further leasing at the apartments and file a lawsuit.
As of June 30, the Cliftwood has all but one of the 10 units rented, according to the city. The three public safety units include two one-bedroom apartments for $500 apiece, compared with the market rate of $1,480, and one two-bedroom apartment for $500, compared with the market rate of $1,880, according to city documents.
The remaining seven units are for workforce employees and are offered to households with incomes that are 80% to 120% of Fulton County’s area median income (AMI).
North American Properties has a 10-year workforce agreement with the city at The Hill, offering 30 of the 305 units exclusively to workforce employees at discounted rates.
The agreement, part of the 2016 zoning approving the units, stipulates the workforce units are to be made available to households with incomes less than 120% of AMI and that rent cannot exceed 35% of the residents’ income. The complex must also show marketing efforts to hospital employees.
The Hill is within walking distance to the medical center, which includes three hospitals — Northside, Emory Saint Joseph’s and Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta at Scottish Rite — as well as many medical offices.
“In the medical district, it was the city’s desire to make housing available for those who worked at the hospitals, so they could live near where they worked, which would help reduce traffic congestion in that area,” Kraun said.
As of June 30, 29 of the 30 units were leased at The Hill, with the workforce housing rents ranging from $1,295 to $1,370.
According to the complex’s website, non-subsidized rates range from $1,295 for a studio to $2,265 for a two-bedroom, two-bathroom apartment.
Because the first full documentation is not due until December, the city does not have exact numbers for the Hill as it does for the Cliftwood, according to Kraun.