ATLANTA, Ga. (CW69 News at 10 – A multimillion dollar grant will soon help several Metro Atlanta houses of worship create hundreds of affordable homes. Mayor Andre Dickens joined the organizations involved for a press conference to release the details on February 23, 2022.

Inside Atlanta First United Methodist Church (AFUMC), Dickens joined Enterprise Community Partners and the Wells Fargo Foundation for the praiseworthy announcement: a $8.5 million grant will help 15 Atlanta area churches convert their underutilized land into affordable houses.

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“Churches have the land, but a lot of times, they don’t have to site development, the environmental study, the money to do the architectural drawings, the predevelopment work,” said Dickens.

The grant will help them start the process of creating 1,000 affordable homes over the next five years.

“Each faith-based organization will have their own vision and what they will create around rental housing or ownership,” said Meaghan Vlkovic, the vice president of Enterprise Community Partners’ Southeast Market.

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“We’re just so honored to be able to support this wonderful, faith based initiative that marries mission, resources and community need,” said Wells Fargo Foundation Senior Vice President and Head of Housing Affordability Philanthropy Eileen Fitzgerald.

Greater Piney Grove Baptist Church Pastor William Flippin knows first hand how more resources are needed. “It was my vision, maybe over 20 years ago, when gentrification was really taking hold, where I had senior members that were not able to pay their taxes,” he said.

AFUMC Lead Pastor Reverend Jasmine Smothers says the grant will help her church first put up to three acres of its land to good use. “Affordable housing is a place that we feel deeply called to, and to know that the city is ready to partner with faith-based communities could not be better news for us,” said Smothers.

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Dickens says the goal is to create to 20,000 affordable housing units in the next eight years.