LAI Chapter Meeting
June 19, 2020

Presenter: John Ahmann, Executive Director, Westside Future Fund

Introductory Remarks, Bill de St. Aubin

Bill provided highlights over the coming months and upcoming programming, including July 23 program on Pandemic Awakening, featuring speakers from epidemiology and planning.

Bill also mentioned the work Sizemore Group is doing in concert with epidemiologists to help local governments and other large public spaces reopen.

The Central Library tour will take place in September. Reminder to complete the chapter survey on perceptions during the pandemic and chapter impacts.

Report on Global Regenerative Land Economics Initiative, Holly Elmore

The goal of this new group is to promote healthy, sustainable, connected communities. Focus areas are infrastructure, environmental resources, social justice.

Presenter Introduction, Philip Searles, President, Beverly Searles Foundation

Has been president of the foundation for the past 8 years. Nonprofit developer for affordable housing, since 1974. They work with African American churches in the Atlanta region to build affordable units. Housing is one way to help break the cycle of poverty, in connection with jobs, education, health, greenspace.

Westside Future Fund has a strong board and strong leadership to spearhead revitalization efforts on the Westside.

Presentation, John Ahmann, Executive Director, Westside Future Fund

(Presentation slides are available here; the recorded meeting video is available here)

John was born and raised in Atlanta, now a resident of Vine City. WFF works in English Avenue, Vine City, Ashview Heights and Castleberry Hills neighborhoods. Westside was one of the first places in Atlanta where African Americans could own land.

In 1960s, population of the area was around 50,000 – but mostly African American because they couldn’t live in other areas of the city. The population is now around 15,000.

WFF doesn’t have endowment, but access to capital from various corporations and foundations.

Core goal of WFF is to restore economic mobility. Revitalize true mixed-income communities, mitigate displacement, develop high-quality affordable rental housing, support workforce development.

16% of residents are homeowners, many are retired and on fixed income. WFF launched anti-displacement tax fund to cover the tax increase for existing homeowners. 120 homeowners are a part of the program now, with 250 more in the pipeline.

WFF purchases land to hold for affordable housing purposes. They prioritize members of the community or ones with connections to the community.

Meeting notes submitted by LAI Atlanta Secretary Stephen Causby.