Doug on the Issues
I believe we are in a unique position with the 2021 city council election happening at the same time as the 10 year Community Development Plan (CDP) reviews. I see this as a unique and vital opportunity that should not be overlooked. . My vision includes expanding the development plan audit beyond the CDP plan, into all city agencies, and engaging our communities to identify challenges, goals, and plans for the future. I would like to see the process of engaging community input happen in every community, allowing these concerns to shape the issues in this election. If I win the race, I will have clear goals and an engaged community. If I lose, the communities will be that much better organized to hold their leaders accountable. Either way, our future success as a community will begin here, together.
Each year I will take the pulse of the community through a community performance review, so our neighbors can go rate the performance of all city agencies. This will increase engagement with our communities to identify challenges, goals, and plans for the future. This survey will happen annually to set the course for action by my office and create a way for people to measure my performance and hold me accountable. The delay of the community development plan into 2021 means that for the first time we can actually be talking about the issues of what we want as a city, at the same time the elected leaders are most accountable to us. We don’t have to ask for permission to start writing a performance review. We do it all the time with applications such as Yelp, Google, and other platforms. We can start measuring our community response and evaluation right now. We can have honest conversations about what we want as a community and what we hope to see and be.
We must repair the relationship between the community and the police so that our police are seen as a valued and trusted partner, and repair the relationship between the police and City Hall. Too many citizens do not have a trusting relationship with our police department, and too many police do not feel they have the support of city hall and our citizens. We need to partner with the police unions to establish reforms and standards of practice and policies so that police have a consistent set of expectations on operations and use of force, and provide additional resources so police are not left to deal with the failures of our society in regards to drug addiction and mental illness. We must expand our Policing Alternative Diversion programs to 24/7 support across the district.
We cannot improve safety without addressing the underlying causes feeding the problem. 80% of the people in City Jail are there for issues of mental illness and our jails and prisons provide more care for mental illness then our hospitals. We are a city that cannot affordably house its people, and our current development practices are creating desperate circumstances for our people. We must address the connections between gangs, drugs, and the club scene that has made our nightclubs the center of our increases in crime.
Finally, Most of district 5 is in DeKalb county and many of our neighborhoods border communities in a different police jurisdiction. We must have cooperation between Atlanta and DeKalb communities as well as our public safety leaders in law enforcement to effectively address our crime issues.
We must be a city where our people can afford to live. It is here especially where we see who we have left behind in our current development practices. We’re not going to have safe communities if our own people feel displaced and desperate in order to survive. The median selling price of a home is $409,000 in 2021 while the average median income of a city of Atlanta family is only $59,000. Most of our citizens cannot afford housing Within the 30% of income level that is considered affordable. Our housing policy is almost exclusively based on Single family residents, in a city where that is only about 30% of the population. Over 50% of our residents rent, often because they can’t afford to buy a home.
We need to increase housing options for multifamily housing and live up to our promises of affordable housing, not just along the Beltline but in every neighborhood. If we want to reduce crime we have to provide housing not just for the working families but for victims of abuse and the disabled, especially those with mental illness. We must legislate requirements for affordable housing for housing developments that allow for a functioning and thriving business community to build housing that works for everyone.
Services for Seniors, the disabled, and youth.
We must take care of those who have been left behind in our current development track. This means housing for everyone but also infrastructure and services that work for everyone. We need to allow seniors to age in place by providing tax breaks for anyone living at up to 200% of the poverty line, not just for singles but for elders living with their families. Our Senior support through the Department of Recreation must be functional even when challenged by circumstances such as a pandemic.
We must have infrastructure and support services to serve the needs of those with disabilities be it physical or mental. Our city is not accessible for those using walkers and wheelchairs, and ADA accessible housing is very hard to find. Our jails and prison provide more mental health services than our healthcare system, and much of our problems of homelessness and crime are fed by inadequate mental health services.
We must address the fact that Atlanta has the highest income inequality in the country, which feeds crime, displaces people, and has made our city the hardest place in the country to live on minimum wage. We need workforce development for our youth, not just for the kids on a college track, but by building public private partnerships with the unions in skilled trades, the film and hospitality industry.