Economic Development, Rethinking Revenue

Game-Changing Potential: Urban Wealth Funds and the City of Atlanta

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The City of Atlanta, Georgia, like many others, faces an affordable housing shortage. The mayor’s goal is to create or preserve 20,000 affordable housing units between 2022 and 2030. Achieving this goal will require better land use strategies and more resources. Moreover, it will require an institution within the local government that can generate new resources and coordinate publicly owned land and assets that could have a role in achieving the city’s affordable housing goal.

In 2022, Atlanta joined the Putting Assets to Work Incubator to implement an urban wealth fund. An urban wealth fund first takes stock of the land and buildings owned by local government, then recognizes where the economic potential of those assets has not been realized. Finally, it works to realize that potential while maintaining an ongoing financial interest for the city. This way, the public shares in the financial upside produced from “putting the assets to work.” Atlanta’s goal is to direct those resources toward affordable housing, but local governments are looking to this concept to unlock resources to deal with other complex problems as well.

In this article, we will use the City of Atlanta’s experience to illustrate the first step involved in taking advantage of revenue potential from existing assets: developing an “asset map.”