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Habitat for Humanity head gives “out of touch” Commission a reality check on the meaning of affordable homes


Following the “stipulation laden approval” last week by the Cobb Commission for a Habitat for Humanity project in Mableton, the Board Chairman of Habitat for Humanity of Northwest Atlanta did not mince his words when he came to the commission this week to give them a reality check on the meaning of affordable housing.  

For emphasis and effect, Gieryn jabbed his finger on the lectern as he spoke about the unreasonable stipulations the board approved, which would balloon costs for Habitat homes by $55,000 to $80,000, per home. The result would be a community that is “simply not affordable housing.” 

While giving them a piece of what was on his mind, Richard Gieryn told the  “out of touch” commissioners that the stipulations they placed on the “affordable” homes will cause costs to skyrocket and become unaffordable for the very people who desperately need housing in South Cobb. 

Said Gieryn, “Habitat requested approval to build one additional home … in order to get one family — one more family on the waiting list an opportunity for homeownership. What we got was an approval with material stipulations that makes this entire project unaffordable.”

In his remarks, Gieryn pointed to one of the requirements – that Habitat buy back any homes foreclosed on in the first seven years after construction – and said it was an unfair standard not applied to middle and upper-income neighborhoods. 

He also questioned the commission’s sincerity on foreclosure concerns in Habitat homes when it was driving up construction costs that would be ultimately passed on to homeowners.

Said Gieryn, “The zoning as approved probably will prevent us from helping people who work in our county from realizing the dreams of owning a home in our county, due to the increased costs associated (with) complying with the commission’s stipulations.” 

Gieryn asked the “out of touch” board to consider revisiting the stipulations, which may not occur with this commission board that is racking up a list of missteps this year. One of the most boneheaded decisions from the board came earlier this year. Cobb’s economic engines, Dobbins Air Force base and Lockheed Marietta, were placed in jeopardy after Chair Lisa Cupid led a vote by the board to allow a developer to build in a restricted area near the runway. 

We spoke to South Cobb affordable housing advocates on this issue. One said citizens must pay more attention to who they vote into office to make decisions on their behalf. Another said more citizens need to come together, mobilize, and hold the board accountable now and during elections. The  poor decisions they are making impacts the most vulnerable – families and others desperately needing affordable housing in South Cobb.


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