An Affordable Housing Program in Atlanta is Changing Lives
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.”