(The Center Square) — Some Georgia state lawmakers want the state to look at rent control to manage ballooning housing costs.
“It’s not just the Atlanta area that’s having these problems,” state Sen. Donzella James, D-Atlanta, said during a state Senate Urban Affairs Committee meeting. “It is all over our state and our nation.”
During the hearing, state Rep. Rhonda Taylor, D-Conyers, said 37 states already have some control measures or prohibitions.
“We have a huge problem with tenants being evicted, with rents going up, and it impacts working-class people, the people that work in our restaurants, the people that work in our grocery stores, the people that teach in our schools,” state Rep. Terry Cummings, D-Mableton, said. “It’s not just a lower-class problem. It’s a problem; it’s a middle-class problem. It’s a problem across the board.
“We know it’s not just here in Georgia, but in Georgia, with the prohibition against any type of rent control, it really prevents any municipality, any local government, any county, any city from addressing the issue in a way that benefits their constituents,” Cummings added. “…If we can do something about it, just to give local governments control to negotiate and address the problem would be a huge step in the right direction.”
Jet Toney, representing the Georgia Affordable Housing Coalition, said the state already has rent control under the Low Income Housing Tax Credit, also known as the State Housing Tax Credit.
“For the tax credits that are awarded for a development in your districts, the developer agrees for a period of 30 years to offer the units — at least a majority of the units — at a below market rate, and that is governed by the federal program,” Toney said. “I want to make clear that there is rent control in the state of Georgia, and it is through this program.”
Toney said a major stress on that highly successful program comes from the assessors in some counties, such as DeKalb County.
“In … a growing number of counties, assessors see this government-sponsored program as a piggy bank, and the program cannot be sustained at the types of property tax assessments that are being levied on the properties,” Toney said. “There is a solution for this, and we find it in the state of Mississippi, where the citizens of that state have authorized the Legislature to pass legislation which clearly defines how properties under IRS section 42, the Low Income Housing Tax Credit properties, are to be properly assessed.
“And it’s basically the same formula that the for-profit apartment complexes throughout our state are assessed, and that is the Income Method — the income less expenses — and then some consideration for depreciation in capitalization,” Toney added.