Mayor Andre Dickens

Mayor Andre Dickens has shaken up the Atlanta Housing board in his pursuit of building or preserving 20,000 units of affordable housing in the city.

Four members of the agency resigned on Monday: Chair Christopher Edwards, Vice-chair Kirk Rich, Commissioner Pat Dixon, Jr. and Commissioner Robert Highsmith Jr.

Dickens quickly announced four replacement appointees, including former city chief operating officer Duriya Farooqui, former Atlanta Regional Commission director Doug Hooker, former Urban Land Institute Atlanta head Sarah Kirsch, and Atlanta City Council Housing Commission member Larry Stewart

The Atlanta City Council must vote to approve the mayor’s appointees.

The remaining three commissioners – Rosalind Elliott, Sheila Harris and Tené Traylor— will continue in their positions.

“With housing prices on the rise and inflation cutting deeply into paychecks, there is no time to waste on our plan to build and preserve homes that our residents can afford,” Dickens said in a statement. “Atlanta Housing is an important partner in achieving our vision to build or preserve 20,000 units of affordable housing. My appointments to the board share my vision and have wide-ranging expertise and leadership experience in both the public and private sectors to get the job done.”

As Dickens announced in his State of the City address last month, he is also putting in place an Affordable Housing Strike Force, to be led by City of Atlanta Chief Operating Officer Lisa Gordon and Senior Advisor Courtney English. The Strike Force will include representatives from the city and other local agencies and will be tasked with streamlining and accelerating development of affordable housing.

Also on Monday, Dickens introduced his 2023 budget, which invests in city services and personnel while expanding investments in At-Promise Youth Centers, public safety facilities, and parks.

The $743 million budget – the largest in the city’s history – must now be approved by the city council.

Notable highlights of the budget is pay increases for all city employees, additional funding to hire new police officers, funding for arts and culture, and technology infrastructure upgrades.

“This budget is a statement of the City’s core values, our respect and acknowledgement of the contributions of our employees, and our unwavering commitment to exceed the expectations of all Atlantans,” Dickens said. “By thoughtfully broadening our investments in infrastructure, maintenance for aging parks and public safety facilities, expanded youth engagement programs and services for residents, we are meeting the needs of today while laying the groundwork for an equitable and resilient future.”

View the 2023 budget online here.

Collin KelleyEditor

Collin Kelley has been the editor of Atlanta Intown for two decades and has been a journalist and freelance writer for 35 years. He’s also an award-winning poet and novelist.