April 13, 2021

2021 Georgia Legislative Session Housing Recap

 

The 2021 Georgia legislative session proved to be another challenging year for lawmakers entrenched in a global pandemic that remains a focal point over one year after pausing much of the economic activity in the country. However, the legislative session pressed on with opportunities for equity in housing being focal points for Enterprise and our partners. 

The City of Atlanta will have the opportunity to create more incentives for affordable housing in thriving neighborhoods. House Bill 757, sponsored by Rep. Bey Nguyen and Sen. Jen Jordan, authorizes the city to update its Urban Enterprise Zone Act (the “Act”) to create a new category for workforce housing. These workforce housing zones will provide tax incentives for the development of affordable housing in high opportunity neighborhoods. Affordable housing development in “high opportunity neighborhoods” would not have previously qualified for incentives through the Act which required a showing of economic distress in the area. The Act authorizes the Atlanta City Council to create workforce housing zones by ordinance following a public hearing.

Other positive outcomes from session:

  • House Resolution 52, sponsored by Rep. Katie Dempsey, authorizes the creation of a joint study committee of the Georgia House of Representatives and the Georgia State Senate to prevent childhood lead exposure/poisoning and evaluate Georgia’s lead abatement obligations.
  • Senate Bill 75, sponsored by Sen. Kim Jackson, creates the right for tenants who are protected by a civil or criminal stalking order to terminate their leases early.
  • A bill that sought to divert state and federal away from shelter and other services to Georgia’s unhoused population was not successful. House Bill 713, sponsored by Rep. Katie Dempsey, proposed the sanctioning of encampments for the unhoused with a six-month durational limit. The restrictions on where unhouse persons may lawfully be encamped would be criminally sanctioned. 

Other measures that would have expanded already limited protections for renters in Georgia did not move forward this year. Notably, House Bill 408, sponsored by Rep. Sharon Cooper, proposed to require that landlords/property managers provide tenants with written notice 7-days prior to initiating eviction proceeding and provide tenants with a right to become current on late payments during this notice period.  This law would have brought Georgia in line with 40 other states requiring a notice period prior to filing eviction actions. This is an important piece of legislation that we anticipate becoming increasingly necessary.

House Bill 301, sponsored by Rep. Sam Park, also proposed to strengthen notice requirements for tenants facing eviction. House Bill 524, sponsored by Rep. Marvin Lim, proposed to require that landlords issue tenants with notice of tenant’s rights and responsibilities. Senate Bill 206, sponsored by Sen. Nikki Merritt, proposed to prevent prospective tenants from being refused rental housing when the denial was based on an eviction during the COVID-19 public health emergency. These bills did not move forward during this legislative session.

Congratulations on all the great work done to expand capacity for affordable housing! We are always invigorated by forward movement that brings Georgia closer to increasing access to quality, safe, and stable housing that is affordable for Georgians at all income levels. We look forward to reigniting our push to elevate impactful housing bills that create opportunity. On to 2022!

For questions, please contact Kandice Mitchell.

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