Fulton County, Georgia, with territory north and south of the city of Atlanta, is experiencing growing pains. Like other jurisdictions throughout the United States dealing with increasing urban sprawl, the county must address growth needs and rehabilitation issues related to the older housing units located largely in south Fulton. In addition, it must also implement ways of balancing affordable housing for low- and moderate-income individuals within the communities of Fulton County (north Fulton, Sandy Springs, south Fulton, and southwest Fulton).
The Consolidated Plan, which identifies housing and community development needs in Fulton County, includes the minimum requirements for four formula programs: Community Development Block Grant (CDBG), HOME Investment Partnerships (HOME), Emergency Shelter Grant (ESG), and Housing Opportunities for Persons with AIDS (HOPWA). Applications are submitted for $3,015,000 in CDBG and ESG funds.
The Consolidated Plan set forth by Fulton County was prepared by the Department of Planning and Economic Development. It reflects the collaborative efforts of numerous departments, agencies, and citizens in addressing housing problems and special needs of the elderly, homeless, and persons with HIV/AIDS. Input was sought using communications techniques such as meetings, advertisements, and a targeted mailing campaign.
Since particular emphasis was placed on low- and moderate-income persons, the county encouraged participation from such persons, especially advocates for the elderly, homeless, and persons with HIV. Special appeals were made to ensure proper representation of the low- and moderate-income persons. The county was sudivided into four geographic quadrants, with one planner assigned to each location to ensure proper coverage. A total of three meetings were scheduled in each of the four quadrants. Each planner was responsible for educating the public regarding the consolidated plan. Surveys were also distributed and collected. Southwest Fulton and Sandy Springs were the least well attended while north Fulton exceeded all attendance records and provided a rich source of feedback. South Fulton also provided good information.
Attention was also paid to the identification of geographic sites in the county that had high concentrations of minorities. In each area -- College Park, East Point, Fairburn, Hapeville, Union City, and Palmetto -- one person was designated to disseminate HUD information to residents. An analysis of the impact of the Consolidated Plan activities on neighborhood residents, particularly low- and moderate-income residents, needs assessments, and on-site visits to each proposed project were made prior to inclusion in the plan.
MAP 1 depicts points of interest in the jurisdiction.
Fulton County (outside the city of Atlanta) increased in population by 43 percent, to 286,934, between 1980 and 1990. While the white population increased by 28 percent during the decade, African Americans increased by 100 percent (21,700) and Hispanics by 187 percent (1,876). The county has 114,749 housing units, 88 percent of which are occupied. Most (60 percent) of the county's residents are homeowners -- less than half (41 percent) are renters. Countywide, the median home value for 1990 was $97,000 and the median rent was $396.
However, the growth of this community, combined with a 25 percent increase in the minority population, emphasized the division between the upscale north Fulton and the poorer south Fulton areas. Although some low-income households are scattered throughout the county, there is a high concentration of low- and moderate-income housing units in south Fulton. Most middle- and upper-income residents live in the newer housing units in north Fulton.
In 1990, there were significant percentages of low-income households in every racial category. Three-fourths of the households in Fulton County were white and 24 percent of these were very low- (0-50 percent of median family income) or low-income (51-80 percent of median family income) households. Twenty-one percent of the county's households were African American, 39 percent very low-income or low income. While only 2 percent were Hispanic, 42 percent of these households were very low- or low-income.
MAP 2 depicts points of interest and low-moderate income areas.
MAP 3 depicts points of interest, low-moderate income areas, and minority concentration levels.
MAP 4 depicts points of interest, low-moderate income areas, and unemployment levels.
Much of the housing in south Fulton is old and in need of rehabilitation. These units largely house low-income persons who cannot afford the necessary repairs.
Most of the recent housing development in north Fulton County has been for higher-priced homes. Escalating land and construction costs have priced the low-and moderate-income families out of the marketplace. The number of affordable homes in the $30,000-$75,000 range is very small.
Some substandard units are dispersed throughout the county. According to the 1990 Census, as many as 6,384 housing units owned by very low-income households were experiencing some "housing problems." Current CDBG-funded housing rehabilitation programs targeting very low-income homeowners can improve only a fraction of owner-occupied substandard units annually.
Assuming that builders bring new construction in line with housing demand over the 1990-2010 period, almost 40 percent of the new households formed in Fulton County will lack the financial resources to own or rent their homes. A housing study predicted that unless prices can be reduced to affordable levels for all households, the demand for new housing will be lowered from 4,300 to 2,800 units per year in Fulton County during that period.
Further evidence of the geographical division within the county lies in the current vacancy rate: 12 percent for north Fulton as compared to 5.4 percent for south Fulton. This difference in housing supply has been changing, however, as builders have begun to deliver single family housing priced at $75,000 and rental housing priced at $500 per month in south Fulton County. In contrast, north Fulton has starter homes of $100,000.
More than one out of every four households (28 percent) in Fulton County is low-income. Of the 13,622 who were identified as very low income, most (36 percent) were small families, 22 percent were elderly renter households, and 9 percent were large families. The overwhelming majority (72 percent) of these groups were renters; only 29 percent owned their homes. There was a disproportionate cost burden among this population: 60 percent of the households paid more than half of their income for housing.
The elderly make up one-third of the low-income population, and the majority have incomes between $7,500 and $15,000 per year. Because of their low incomes, most cannot afford market-rate housing and pay 30 percent or more of their income for shelter. The concern for this population will continue as the number of elderly residents will continue to grow.
The homeless population is growing throughout the county. An estimated 5,400 persons are homeless and unsheltered. Emergency shelter, transitional housing, and low-cost rental units are not able to meet the demand. Housing costs continue to escalate at the same time the number of very low- and other low-income households seeking affordable housing is increasing. Much of the homeless population in the suburban areas is made up of women and families with children. Therefore, it is important to have a range of shelters and supportive services.
There are only four homeless shelters located in Fulton County (outside of Atlanta). Two are located in the College Park area: Village Atlanta has a capacity for five homeless women; while the Family Development Center serves young mothers. The Women's Residence Center, located in East Point, serves 14 women with children. Fulton County supports the following shelter services located in Atlanta:
The number of residents in Fulton County who have HIV/AIDS has been steadily increasing. The Metropolitan Atlanta Community Foundation and Cooperative for Supportive Housing (CSH) assessed Fulton County's needs in order to better serve its homeless population. Among the key findings of the survey were the need for: increased rental assistance and transitional housing, increased supportive services for once institutionalized persons, provision of more beds and supportive living situations for persons with AIDS, funding for public education to reduce community prejudices, and attention to specific issues regarding homeless AIDS patients.
These populations require a continuum of care that includes health, mental health, and social welfare in addition to meeting their housing needs. Fulton County is considering establishment of a central clearinghouse which would coordinate the housing, employment, health care, job training, child care, mental health care and substance abuse treatments and other applicable services.
The Housing Authority of Fulton County (HAFC) manages 551 units of convention public housing located in both north and south Fulton. One hundred of these units serve elderly and disabled residents in north Fulton while the remaining 451 units are townhouse units spread between three sites (Boat Rock, Red Oak, and Belle Isle). As of November 1993, there were 285 applicants on the public housing waiting list. No new public housing is being constructed by the Housing Authority of Fulton County.
The HAFC also administers Section 8 rental assistance to 225 households. The allocation of Section 8 vouchers has increased by 75 households annually. However, the waiting list for this assistance has approximately 600 names.
The HAFC has been awarded HUD funding for both the Comprehensive Improvement Assistance Program (CIAP) and the Comprehensive Grant Program (CGP) to improve the physical condition of existing housing units.
The Housing Authority of Fulton County was designated by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development as a troubled public housing authority in 1991. Following a Memorandum of Agreement, improvements were made more quickly than expected. The HAFC was removed from the list of troubled housing authorities on July 3,1995. Priorities for continued improvement are operational effectiveness, rehabilitation and renovation of the housing stock, and encouragement of resident self-sufficiency.
The impact of local government codes, zoning regulations, and administrative procedures on housing affordability were identified as major barriers to affordable housing. Of particular note were:
In 1989, Fulton County created a Development Advisory Committee to provide assistance in land development, regulatory matters and the implementation of new regulations. A review of the Zoning Resolution's residential districts was completed which resulted in the creation of two new districts. The creation of these districts will facilitate the construction of low- to moderately-priced housing throughout the county. In order to subsidize new housing, the county established Housing Enterprise Zones in targeted areas which provide ten-year tax abatements, and instituted exemptions to provide relief from property taxation.
The following activities will be conducted in the next year in order to prepare a thorough analysis of impediments to fair housing:
Approximately 43 percent of the county's housing stock (outside of Atlanta) was constructed before 1979 and may contain lead-based paint. The county's Department of Planning and Economic Development (Housing Section) and the county Health Department will lead the Lead-Based Paint Hazard Abatement Program. The Community & Housing Development Division focuses on paint testing, actual abatement of lead-based paint hazards, and an educational program. The Health Department will focus on testing children for elevated blood levels.
Community development needs in Fulton County relate to its growth and increase in low-income population. The county needs to provide for the acquisition, construction, reconstruction, rehabilitation, or installation of public facilities and improvements to: (1) meet health and safety regulations, and (2) upgrade and maintain the viability of neighborhoods where low- and moderate-income families reside.
In order to create new partnerships and maximize community participation, the county has an active coordination plan with the private sector, other jurisdictions, and both profit and nonprofit housing organizations. Rather than having one department to oversee the housing program, Fulton County coordinates the efforts of several different departments and agencies to provide a comprehensive approach to solving the county's housing problems.
Fulton County's Strategic Plan seeks to provide affordable housing and to increase self-sufficiency for its residents through expanded economic opportunities. It also stresses a partnership between the county, nonprofits and other organizations for the provision of housing and services for special needs populations and the homeless.
Fulton County has produced a report, "Comprehensive Strategy for Housing" which details six core housing programs: Home Owner Occupied Housing Rehabilitation, Rental Rehabilitation, Down Payment Assistance, Rental Assistance, Land Bank Authority, and Housing Opportunities for Persons with AIDS. In addition, support for fair housing (Metro Fair Housing), emergency shelter/supportive services (Young Adult Guidance Center), and transitional housing/supportive services (Jefferson Place) are incorporated into the county's continuum of care.
Since the number of households in Fulton County threatened with homelessness is increasing, the county has identified homelessness as its number one priority. It also seeks to upgrade and rehabilitate the housing conditions for its low- and moderate-income households and increase supportive services for its special needs population.
Fulton County has prioritized five areas which must be addressed in order to achieve its mission:
Fulton County plans to increase economic development within the community by providing the capital and non-capital resources needed to promote business creation and expansion. It will provide for acquisition, construction, reconstruction, rehabilitation or installation of public facilities and improvements. It seeks to improve public services including employment, crime prevention, child care, health, drug abuse, education, energy conservation, welfare, and recreation needs.
Fulton County's Project Fulton and the Family Self-Sufficiency Program of the Housing Authority of Fulton County are aimed at reducing the dependency of low-income families on welfare assistance, Section 8 and public housing, and local rent or home ownership subsidies. In collaboration with HAFC, Project Fulton offers a two-year individualized Family Plan whose goals include employment, a stabilized family, and children succeeding in school. The 5-year Self-Sufficiency Program is aimed at the head of the participating family who must seek and maintain suitable employment. Success is measured when 30 percent of the participant's monthly adjusted income equals or exceeds the existing housing fair market rent for the applicable unit size for the area in which the family's unit is located.
The county's Rental Assistance Program, administered by HAFC, is available for emergency assistance to four persons/families moving out of a transitional housing facility into private market housing. It uses rental assistance vouchers to ease the shift into the private housing market.
As there is no single department to administer the housing program, the following are responsible for individual facets of the plan:
In all of its housing programs, Fulton County seeks to maximize private sector involvement and works closely with numerous profit and nonprofit organizations in implementing the Strategic Plan. These include: Atlanta Mortgage Consortium, Atlanta Neighborhood Development Partnership, Atlanta Project, Concerned Black Clergy, Corporation for Olympic Development in Atlanta, Dekalb/Fulton Housing Counseling Center, Development Advisory Committee, Fulton Atlanta Community Action Authority, Georgia Planning Association, Grove Way Community Association, Housing Authority of Fulton County, Housing Forum, Housing Hotline, Housing Initiatives of North Fulton, Metropolitan Atlanta HIV Planning Council, Monogram Credit Card bank of Georgia, North Fulton Community Charities, North Fulton Housing Forum, Task Force for the Homeless, United Way's First Call for Help, Unity Mortgage, and University Community Development Corporation.
MAP 5 depicts points of interest, low-moderate income areas, unemployment levels, and proposed HUD funded projects.
MAP 6 is a map, sectioned by neighborhood, which depicts points of interest, low-moderate income areas, unemployment levels, and proposed HUD funded projects.
MAP 7 depicts points of interest, low-moderate income areas, unemployment levels, and proposed HUD funded projects within one of the four neighborhoods indicated in MAP 6.
MAP 8 depicts points of interest, low-moderate income areas, unemployment levels, and proposed HUD funded projects within another of the four neighborhoods indicated in MAP 6.
MAP 9 depicts points of interest, low-moderate income areas, unemployment levels, and proposed HUD funded project(s) from a street level vantage point; as well as, provides a table with information about the project(s).
The $2,940,000 in CDBG funds to be received by the county will be used for municipal, public service, economic development, housing, and public facilities projects. Some of the efforts implemented by the county include:
Monitoring activities are carried out by the Community and Housing Development Division of the Department of Planning and Economic Development.