Senoia moves ahead on affordable housing option

The city of Senoia approved a bold initiative July 1 that could help make housing in the city more affordable for seniors.

By a unanimous vote, the City Council created the Inclusive Community District. The purpose of the district is to address the lack of affordable and moderately-priced housing and foster neighborhood cohesiveness and social interaction.

Mayor Jeff Fisher was quick to address residents’ concerns that this was a way to create denser housing in the city.

“We will never be another Peachtree City,” he said.

The first new district will be located at the intersection of Howard Road and Ga. Highway 16, and would feature up to 12 homes on two acres. The city is partnering with Habitat for Humanity on the project. Habitat will build smaller homes to allow residents to pay 30 percent or less of their income on housing.

Habitat officials said in order for housing to remain affordable, all costs over the life of the home need to be considered.

“Individuals, families, and seniors with lower incomes cannot afford to pay for homes that require higher utility bills, property taxes, homeowner’s insurance, and maintenance over the life of the home,” wrote Habitat in its presentation on the proposal.

Ricky Baker, who lives on Howard Road and takes care of his aging parents, said his parents have lived for decades in Senoia and planned to spend the rest of their lives on their quiet tract, but now a dense development of homes would be adjacent to them.

Fisher said the City Council appreciated all the long-time property owners of the city, but it was the Council’s duty to look after all residents and the general health of the city.

“There are grandparents who want to move back to the city, who just can’t afford it,” he said.

Before any homes are built on Howard Road, Fisher said they would still have to go through the rigorous scrutiny of the city’s Planning Commission.

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