An Affordable Housing Program in Atlanta is Changing Lives

Posted August 9, 2023
By the Annie E. Casey Foundation
A couple stand outside, looking at a house.

For more than 100 years, the Andrew P. Stew­art Cen­ter has served Atlantans, with a focus on sup­port­ing edu­ca­tion, well­ness and lead­er­ship devel­op­ment. In recent years, the Cen­ter has tak­en on a new chal­lenge: con­nect­ing youth and their fam­i­lies to afford­able hous­ing in south­west Atlanta’s Pitts­burgh neigh­bor­hood. This ini­tia­tive, Pitts­burgh Com­mu­ni­ty Hous­ing LLC (PCH), was cre­at­ed in part­ner­ship with the Annie E. Casey Foundation.

Pitts­burgh has a long his­to­ry, first estab­lished by Black labor­ers in 1883. Ini­tial­ly a thriv­ing eco­nom­ic hub in Atlanta, the neigh­bor­hood start­ed to decline in the 1960s due to dis­in­vest­ment and neglect. In 2009, the Casey Foun­da­tion embarked on a plan to sta­bi­lize and revi­tal­ize Pitts­burgh, pur­chas­ing and ren­o­vat­ing 53 homes in the com­mu­ni­ty. Forty-three prop­er­ties were rede­vel­oped as afford­able hous­ing, and 10 were trans­ferred to local non­prof­its, includ­ing PCH.

Break­ing Ground on Afford­able Hous­ing in Pittsburgh

The Stew­art Cen­ter launched PCH after hear­ing from local res­i­dents and hous­ing providers about the neigh­bor­hood’s needs. Work offi­cial­ly began in 2015, when the Cen­ter pur­chased and reha­bil­i­tat­ed its first three homes. It then entered into a part­ner­ship with the Foun­da­tion to acquire and ren­o­vate more unoc­cu­pied hous­es in the neighborhood.

To date, PCH has built or reha­bil­i­tat­ed 20 afford­able hous­ing units in Pitts­burgh that res­i­dents can secure over the long term via a unique lease-to-pur­chase mod­el. Its appli­ca­tion process pri­or­i­tizes local, low-income fam­i­lies of color.

PCH has helped pro­tect and sup­port local renters in three major areas:

  • Pre­vent­ing dis­place­ment. Because rent for Stew­art Cen­ter hous­ing is fixed at no more than 30% of res­i­dents’ month­ly income, fam­i­lies are pro­tect­ed from ris­ing hous­ing costs local­ly as well as tra­di­tion­al rent­ing risks, like eviction.
  • Encour­ag­ing finan­cial sta­bil­i­ty. Through sta­ble hous­ing and access to finan­cial coun­sel­ing and work­shops, house­holds learn and secure finan­cial resilience.
  • Shap­ing com­mu­ni­ty lead­ers. Eas­ing a family’s wor­ries about their long-term hous­ing needs leaves them bet­ter equipped to take on lead­er­ship roles with­in their community.

The Stew­art Cen­ter took on the issue of afford­able hous­ing because our neigh­bors iden­ti­fied it as a need in their com­mu­ni­ty,” says Clay­ton Davis, exec­u­tive direc­tor of the Stew­art Cen­ter. We saw first­hand how sub­stan­dard hous­ing in Pitts­burgh was harm­ing chil­dren and fam­i­lies who were par­tic­i­pat­ing in our oth­er pro­gram­ming. Today, afford­able hous­ing is one of our most rec­og­niz­able ini­tia­tives and a key com­po­nent of our efforts to help fam­i­lies in our com­mu­ni­ty reach their full potential.”

Keep­ing Qual­i­ty Hous­ing Acces­si­ble in Atlanta

The Stew­art Center’s hous­ing work has not been with­out chal­lenges. As hous­ing prices climb, it has become increas­ing­ly dif­fi­cult for the Cen­ter to acquire prop­er­ty and cre­ate afford­able hous­ing in Pitts­burgh. In response, PCH is focused on devel­op­ing mul­ti-fam­i­ly hous­ing projects in south­west Atlanta and aims to cre­ate 50 afford­able units with­in the next two to three years.

In a rel­a­tive­ly short peri­od of time, we’ve seen how the Stew­art Center’s efforts to con­nect Pitts­burgh res­i­dents with qual­i­ty hous­ing is mak­ing a huge dif­fer­ence in the community’s qual­i­ty of life,” says Aman­da Jaquez, a senior asso­ciate with the Casey Foundation’s Atlanta Civic Site. As mort­gage and rent prices con­tin­ue to rise across the coun­try, access to sta­ble, afford­able hous­ing is essen­tial for families.”

Dis­cov­er how a non­prof­it evolved into an afford­able hous­ing provider

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