MYTH: People who rent apartments are poor.
MYTH: People who rent apartments are “living off the government.”
FACT: There are very few residents “living off the government.” In fact there are only 135 families in ALL of Sandy Springs who receive federally supported housing through Section 8 Vouchers. Within the North River Catalyst area, there are ONLY 8 residents who receive Section 8 Vouchers.
MYTH: People who rent apartments are transient.
FACT: The apartments on the North End of Sandy Springs have a 94% occupancy rate. It is true that there are families who move during the school year to keep ahead of the rising rents. They find it necessary to move. Many of these families work in our community and would prefer remaining in place, because they want to live close to their places of employment and want their children to remain in our schools, If we had a program where rents could remain affordable and stable, these families would not have to move.
MYTH: North End is FILLED with crime.
FACT: According to the city & SSPD, the north end has a LOWER crime rate than the rest of the city. And, the rate has gone down consistently every year since 2015 for ALL crimes. In fact, Part 1 crimes (murder, rape, robbery, aggravated assault ,arson, shoplifting) are down 39% for the first 7 months of 2018 (latest information available) compared to the rest of the city. This information is such a surprise to people, including the recently concluded North End Revitalization Task Force, that it made the headlines in the August 9 edition of the Sandy Springs Reporter: Sandy Springs’ north end is safer than city, task force learns
The truth is, we have a safe city, and a safe north end.
MYTH: The North End has a lot of “slumlords”.
FACT: The apartments on the North End are not slums and have a 94% occupancy rate. Most apartments are being updated and renovated because the rental market is strong. For most apartment complexes in the North End, there is a $500 monthly rent difference between a renovated and non-renovated apartment in the same complex.
Additionally, the city has a separate apartment code enforcement division. To obtain a Sandy Springs Business License, the apartment owner must provide a Compliance Certificate and Inspection Report covering 100% of the individual rental units. The city enforces all building codes and inspects specific properties when a complaint is filed.
If you know of an apartment complex that does not meet current building code standards please contact: http://www.sandyspringsga.gov/city-services/urban-development/code-enforcement/apartment-inspections
MYTH: Our schools will get better if we tear down apartments in exchange for single family housing.
FACT: Our schools are already good.
The quality of our elementary and middle schools is reflected in the achievements of our high schools. For example, North Springs Charter High School (NSCHS) has a 4-year high school graduation rate of 90% compared to the state average of 81%. Another criteria used to measure the quality of education is the number of students taking and passing Advanced Placement (AP) courses. NSCHS has a student participation rate of 45% — double the state average of 22%.
This performance plus other factors has resulted in NSCHS being ranked in the top 15% of high schools in the entire country according to the US News World report.
Many families in our community can afford private schools but instead choose to send their students to our public schools. They consider our diversity as an asset, not a hinderance, in our public schools.
The state recognizes the impact of family socioeconomics on student achievement. To take this into consideration, they calculate what is called an “Achievement Gap” to measure the difference in student performance for economically disadvantaged and non-economically disadvantaged students in the same schools (elementary, middle, & high). When our more affluent public-school students’ achievement gap scores are compared to their counterparts in other North Fulton public schools, our students have test scores comparable to their cohorts. This allows a more accurate “apple to apple” comparison and a better way to evaluate and measure student and school performance.
In addition, if we were to tear down the apartments and replace them with single family housing, as some suggest, there would be a significant drop in the number of children enrolled in our public schools as has already happened in Sandy Springs with gentrification. This could necessitate the closing of some schools; and/or, at a minimum, reduction in staff and re-districting of attendance zones causing disruption throughout our city as the schools are rebalanced.
MYTH: The apartments are the source of our traffic congestion.
FACT: There are 17,000 essential economy jobs in Sandy Springs. Tearing down apartments will increase traffic as these workers need to commute INTO Sandy Springs. Keeping the apartments helps to reduce traffic.
Sandy Springs Together
Is Sandy Springs Together creating alarm unnecessarily?
Initiative 1 would be a continuation of the city not anticipating the consequences of redevelopment. Where are the policies to address the resultant displacement, such as happened in the apartments of Versailles, Chastian, and Provence North in the recent past? In addition, there has been no effort to preserve affordable housing.
Many cities adopt policies and ordinances that protect residents who will be displaced by future development.
Sandy Springs Together is presenting information about Inititiatve 1 including the Alternative Plan in the official Task Force Report’s Appendix. The appendix refers to accommodating residents with moving allowances, and/or offering displaced residents “right of return” at affordable rents once new development is complete and/or to require one new affordable unit be built for every affordable unit that is torn down so as to maintain the current inventory of affordable housing rather than reduce it.
There are many solutions to address the challenges without displacing our workers and families but, so far, the city government of Sandy Springs has taken no visible or public action to address these concerns.
What are some of the issues that Sandy Springs Together cares most about?
Residents of Sandy Springs are open to change and progress.
At its core, Sandy Springs is a city built on innovation. All of us who call Sandy Springs “home” want to be part of the connected 21st century Atlanta that offers affordable housing, walkable neighborhoods and a vibrant community that truly makes a city a hometown.
Sandy Springs Together believes that innovation will be best — and will benefit everyone — when we create a culture of respect and inclusiveness among all residents of Sandy Springs.We support smart development that respects and celebrates our diversity and assures wellbeing, prosperity and a vibrant city for all.
What can I do to make a difference right now?
LEARN MORE about the plan and how it affects you. LET YOUR VOICE BE HEARD!
Here are a few things you can do right now:
- 30 Seconds = Share a Facebook link with your friends
- 1 Minute = Write an email to your friends and share information from this website
- 15 Minutes = Host a coffee conversation
- 30 Minutes = Become familiar with all the info on the website
- 1 Hour = Attend a community awareness meeting
- 2 Hours = Invite your friends to discuss the ideas and alternatives in the web site. Ask us to join your discussion!
- 2 Hours = Join our team of volunteers who are knocking on doors and talking to their neighbors
What is NOAH?
NOAH stands for Naturally Occurring Affordable Housing and refers to apartments built in the 1960’s, 1970’s and 1980’s.
Because these properties are older, rents in these properties are usually more affordable than new construction but they usually have more square footage per apartment than newer apartments.
In Sandy Springs, the corporate owners of NOAH apartment complexes are renovating them with new exteriors, appliances and carpets and raising the rents 15-35%. This is pricing a lot of our workers out of the city.
What is an Opportunity Zone?
An Opportunity Zone is a geographical area where new investments, under certain conditions, may be eligible for preferential government tax treatment; usually these areas are economically challenged needing an economic stimulus.
There are no Opportunity Zones in Sandy Springs.
What is an Essential Economy?
This term is used to refer to those basic products and services provided by workers who work with their hands, and are essential to our way of life such as restaurants and hospitality; light construction and landscaping; personal care and assisted living; agriculture and poultry; building and maintenance; and facilities services, distribution and logistics.
These positions are hard to fill and cannot be moved overseas. In Georgia, 1 in 4 workers is a member of the essential economy.
That means ¼ of the population needs to have housing that is affordable to these workers.
What is the “official” definition of affordable housing?
Part of the challenge in advocating for affordable housing is that the term can mean different things to different people. In general, housing is considered affordable if it cost no more than 30% of a household income.
Right now, Sandy Springs is one of the most expensive housing markets in the metro region. The average two bedroom apartment in Sandy Springs rents for more than $1,400 per month, more than one third of what the best-paid teachers, nurses and first-responders make.
We believe that affordable housing includes homes that make it possible for those who teach our children and serve and protect all of us can afford to live in our community.
When teachers can’t afford to live in the communities where they work, it makes it harder to attract and retain the best teachers for our schools, driving down the overall quality of the education for our children and driving down property values.
We oppose any plan that makes it more attractive to tear down existing affordable housing and displace thousands of Sandy Spring residents who currently call our city home. It makes no sense to tear down housing when it is badly needed for our workfoce.
What is gentrification?
Gentrification is a word that is often used to describe the process of renovating and improving an area so that it conforms to middle-class taste.
One result of this process for many communities can be a shift in racial and ethnic composition. The process can lead to displacement for lower-income families as property values and rental costs rise.
Sandy Springs Government
Is the city of Sandy Springs really trying to displace people from their homes?
As of March 2019, the city of Sandy Springs has taken no official action that would displace current residents.
In March 2018, the city appointed a Task Force to provide recommendations for the redevelopment of the North End of Sandy Springs. The recommendations that have been offered to the city council by the Task Force would make several apartment complexes an attractive target for developers. The Task Force recommendations would allow private developers to demolish the apartment homes of thousands of residents to make way for new, higher-priced single-family homes.
The city has taken no action on the Task Force recommendations to support the plan or to offer protection to the residents who are threatened with displacement. The city is now considering its options.
I’ve heard about a city Task Force that has made recommendations to the city. How did the city select members to be on the Task Force?
The Task Force, which wrote the current plan and stand to profit from it, is dominated by developers who lacked the diversity of our broader community.
- NO people of color
- NO representatives from the school system or public safety
- NO small business owners
- NO representatives from any of our major employers
- NO residents who live in the communities likely to be demolished
The Mayor nominated and the City Council approved the appointment of 14 people to the group.
Will the Task Force plan be implemented by the city? If so, how?
The city council has not yet adopted the Task Force recommendations as official city policy or as an official planning document. To adopt the plan, the city council will need to pass a vote to support the recommendations, which may or may not include the displacement of thousands of residents.
Does the city of Sandy Springs plan to demolish apartment homes in our community?
The city has no plans to demolish apartment homes. However, the city council could adopt the recommendations of the Task Force plan that would make it possible — and financially attractive — for private developers to buy apartment homes, demolish the apartment complexes and rebuild with fewer and more expensive single-family homes.
North End Revitalization Task Force
What will happen to the existing apartment complexes if the Task Force plan is not approved? Will they ever be available for residents to buy or own? Will the landlords improve the conditions?
The apartment complexes are currently owned by a handful of private owners. The owners will decide the future of the apartment complexes including improvements based on market demands. The city enforces building codes holding the owners accountable.
However, any city policy that impacts the residents of the apartment complexes should include the voices of the residents who will be impacted the most. It’s important for the city to slow down and get this policy right. The city has the power to make policies concerning zoning and codes that could include anti-displacement policies and limit gentrification.
It’s vital for residents to learn more and be heard in this process.