Setting Aside Transit Sales Tax Revenue for Affordable Housing

With a new wave of transit and active transportation investment coming to Atlanta, thanks to two new sales taxes, advocates are mobilizing to ensure that the investments won't leave low-income residents behind. It's a concept worth considering. 1

One sales tax increase will provide $2.5 billion for badly needed transit upgrades, while a separate $300 million sales tax measure will fund complete streets and projects along the BeltLine — a ring of trails, parks, and possibly transit encircling downtown Atlanta. ... Nathaniel Smith at the Partnership for Southern Equity is leading a campaign to reserve 5 percent of the transit money — about $120 million — for a fund to subsidize housing near transit.


The Partnership for Southern Equity and a coalition of nonprofit groups wants to divert 5 percent of the MARTA funds, about $120 million, to establish a “Living Transit Fund,” which would scale up the agency’s efforts to finance subsidized housing near new transit routes. Developers could use the funding for land acquisition, pre-development costs, or construction costs if they deliver more below-market housing.

The Partnership for Southern Equity estimates the housing fund would produce about 2,500 additional below-market units, affordable to households earning $33,000 a year — lower than MARTA’s current threshold for “affordability.” If the fund’s resources are paired with federal programs like HUD’s Low-Income Housing Tax Credit, as many as 5,400 below-market units could be built.