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Affordable Housing Task Force

Citizen task force report gets tactical with affordable housing recommendations

In early 2019, the Decatur City Commission created the Affordable Housing Task Force, appointing twenty-six community members to serve. Their charge was direct: research and develop recommendations for new policies, programs, and initiatives for the creation and preservation of affordable and workforce housing in the City of Decatur.

A year later their work was complete and the scope of the challenge, as well as the complexity of potential solutions, was clear. From the report:

“It is becoming increasingly difficult for Decatur to keep its inclusive, equitable, and diverse character. Current residents, small business owners, large employers, and conscientious developers struggle with the effects of rising housing costs and, along with regional housing advocates, want to find actionable solutions to prevent the issue from continuing further.

The City of Decatur is experiencing a shortage of both rental and for-sale housing to those households earning less than 120% of area median income, and a severe shortage for those earning less than 80% of area median income.

The shortage of decent, safe, sanitary and affordable housing is causing hundreds of low and very-low income households to pay over half of their income for housing costs. The severe cost burden faced by these households makes them vulnerable to health risks, eviction/foreclosure, and homelessness. Much of Decatur’s existing naturally occurring affordable housing stock is vulnerable to redevelopment, displacing existing residents and limiting new residents from obtaining housing within Decatur.

Affordable housing is one piece of a system of comprehensive housing policies and programs and must be considered as a part of, and integrated with, the whole in order to ensure feasibility and effectiveness. The City of Decatur desires to increase a variety of housing options in order to build a more resilient and vibrant city for decades to come. While attracting new residents, the City of Decatur also desires to retain existing residents and prevent potential displacement caused by rising housing costs.”

The report contains 23 recommended actions overall which were subsequently included in Decatur’s 2020 Strategic Plan and added to the city’s to-do list for the next decade. 

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