Reynoldstown neighbors vote against affordable housing project

Public funding now in question for 42-unit complex
Reynoldstown neighbors vote against affordable housing project
Reynoldstown neighbors vote against affordable housing project(Atlanta News First)
Published: Mar. 13, 2023 at 9:56 PM EDT
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ATLANTA, Ga. (Atlanta News First) - On Monday, neighbors in the Reynoldstown community of Atlanta overwhelmingly voted against an affordable housing project that would house 42 formerly homeless individuals with disabilities.

79 residents voted against the project; 16 residents voted for it; and six residents abstained.

The board of the Reynoldstown Civic Improvement League (RCIL) held the vote at 7 p.m. at the Lang Carson Community Center on Monday.

RCIL board leadership stressed that they support affordable housing projects, but could not back this specific one.

“I just want you to know that we as a community have supported affordable housing,” said Lindalisa Severo, Chair of the RCIL.

“Our integrity has been questioned because we asked questions about how are these developments going to be built,” said Severo.

After the vote, Severo said the board’s primary issue with his project was its density.

She said that 42 people living in tight quarters raised concerns about equity, safety, and dignity.

Severo said the developers were leading a smear campaign to make the neighborhood appear to be unsympathetic to affordable housing projects.

Afterwards, the developers refuted that and said that they responded to media requests when asked.

Cathryn Vassell, CEO of the city’s non-profit entity steering the project, questioned Reynoldstown’s recent track record in supporting affordable housing projects.

“The affordable housing that was touted was done in 2000,” Vassell said.

“It’s 25 units for affordable housing that was done 23 years ago,” said Vassell.

It’s unclear what this vote means for the future of the project.

To secure public funding from the Atlanta Housing Authority, the developer was tasked with engaging with the community where this project would go.

Vassell said some past projects have been green-lit with public funding despite a negative reaction from neighborhood residents.

The developers, from Stryant Construction and Management Inc., have held a series of meetings with the RCIL and community stakeholders.

Stan Sugarman, co-founder of Stryant, said their next step is to go to the Atlanta Housing Authority and present them with the formal vote.

Atticus LeBlanc, the other co-founder of Stryant, cast doubt on the future of the project without significant public funding.

“The reality is, if there is not funding available to create fewer, more supportive housing units in conjunction with the City, and Stryant Investments is left with a piece of property that you can’t development in conjunction with the City, than of course a market-rate development is likely to occur.”