One recent trend across the US is increasingly unaffordable housing. Communities across the country are affected. Most famously, this issue is affecting communities like San Francisco, Los Angeles and New York City. However, it’s also a big issue in places like Georgia, Vermont and Ohio. Each community is addressing this issue in different ways. Savannah, Georgia is currently in the exploratory phase for possible solutions to its housing crisis. Vermont has a system that uses real estate transaction fees to fund affordable housing projects. This has been successful for that state for decades. In Columbus, Ohio, what has worked is essentially a public-private partnership.
Columbus was able to issue 3-year Affordable Housing Bonds because the city has a great bond rating. The county made funding from a property conveyance fee. Lastly, private foundations and even banks contributed money to the effort. They did this through grants. This kind of option is very attractive to cities like Savannah. A public-private partnership helps to spread the costs of affordable housing projects around. Savannah also has the second highest bond rating possible for a city, which means that they may be able to have a referendum on this issue. It’s realistic to think that the city could issue bonds successfully.
Some other cities in Georgia have found ways to use mostly private funding for affordable housing projects. In Atlanta, the United Way and Ameris Bank provided much of the funding to create 550 affordable housing units. This may be an attractive option to Savannah. The city has only recently stated that the creation of more affordable housing units is a priority. Everyone involved in the process still faces a steep learning curve when it comes to this issue.
Many elected officials in Savannah claim that laws in the state of Georgia make it impossible to raise money for this process. The response to this from advocates is that the housing crisis has never been this bad before. So far, creating more affordable housing has been a frustrating issue for everyone in Savannah. It’s time for government officials and activists to find ways to work together and get the problem solved. Other cities and states have shown that it’s more than possible to do so.