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Augusta city leaders and neighbors call for more affordable housing

Published: Apr. 13, 2022 at 6:24 PM EDT
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AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) - We’re following plans for new apartment complexes across Augusta.

Right now, at least four are slated for the downtown area, but the concern of neighbors and city leaders is that none of them are affordable options.

The concern is that new developments at high rates will drive up rent and taxes, and current residents won’t be able to afford them. Harrisburg is one of Augusta’s most affordable areas, but new developments in and surrounding it could change that.

On a Facebook video, the investor says: “The bones on this property are solid. This property has a new window and new plumbing.”

It’s a trend we’ve seen in Augusta time after time. Private investors from out of state; purchase homes and apartments. In a $3.2 million deal, SAR Apartment Capital, a Miami-based company, purchased abandoned Broad Street apartments and two others. A total of 95 units.

While revitalization is needed, one commissioner says affordable options are needed more.

Jordan Johnson, homelessness task force, co-chairman said: “We need a mixture of both. If you have more of one than another, then now your scales are unbalanced, and what is happening is folks are being left behind.”

At least three known apartment complexes are slated for the downtown area, but none have affordable units that match the area’s income.

Our I-TEAM found the average cost for a two-bedroom apartment at any of the newest apartments is more than $1,600 a month.

“We are watching gentrification unfold in our communities before our eyes, and we’re quiet about it,” said Johnson.

Johnson says to ensure the scales are balanced, there must be a policy similar to ‘inclusionary zoning’ where units are reserved for those below a certain income. A policy Augusta doesn’t have right now.

“There’s no ordinance, no zoning requirements, no measures to say, ‘we have a priority with affordable housing,’” he said. “We have to protect those who have been here for decades.”

The investors say these apartments will run from about $900. It’s not as high as some of the other new options. Johnson says creating an affordable housing policy is a step the city is looking to take.

For more information, visit Abiel Ballesteros.

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