Jason Bearden of CareSource Georgia speaks at a press conference about his organization’s $2.5 million investment in affordable housing in Metro Atlanta. With him are Atlanta Mayor Andre Dickens and Ashani O’Mard, Atlanta Neighborhood Development Partnership senior vice president for strategic housing investments. (CareSource)

CareSource, one of the nation’s largest nonprofit administrators of Medicaid plans, is investing $2.5 million to preserve affordable single-family rental homes across Metro Atlanta. Housing stability is critical to ensuring healthy residents and must be addressed by health care leaders, according to the organization.

The funds will go to the nonprofit Atlanta Neighborhood Development Partnership to acquire and rehabilitate the homes. ANDP launched a plan in 2020 to develop or preserve 2,000 affordable apartment units and single-family homes by 2025.

“The lack of affordable housing opportunities in Atlanta is an issue that leaders in health care must address,” said Jason Bearden, market president for CareSource Georgia, in a news release. CareSource is headquartered in Dayton, Ohio, and serves 2 million members in Georgia, Indiana, Kentucky, Ohio and West Virginia.

“Housing stability, safety and affordability directly affect health outcomes. When families struggle with the high cost of rent, they are forced to make decisions between transportation, food, routine doctor’s visits and other necessities,” he said. “Overall care often takes a backseat and the stress of an unsafe or unpredictable situation takes a toll on both mental and physical health.” 

ANDP develops, finances and advocates for affordable housing and aims to reduce the Black homeownership gap and increase access to affordable rental properties. ANDP’s single-family rental portfolio has grown from 20 to nearly 200 homes in 2022, according to CareSource.

“Partnerships with organizations like CareSource helps us further our mission to offer safe and affordable homes across the Metro Atlanta region,” said Ashani O’Mard, ANDP senior vice president for strategic housing investments, in the release. 

“CareSource’s $2.5 million investment will provide 75 families or individuals with reliable, safe and affordable places to call home.”

Metro Atlanta has lost nearly 60,000 housing units that could have been rented by lower- to moderate-income residents in the five years before the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a report by Axios Atlanta. 

City data also reports that between 2000 and 2017, Atlanta’s median rent increased by over 70%, but Atlanta’s median income only increased by 48%. In 2016, more than half of Atlantans were considered housing-cost burdened, according to the city.

“We are indeed facing a critical shortage of affordable housing in the metro Atlanta region, and I remain committed to finding solutions to solve that problem and working with partners, whether they are state partners, federal partners, local partners or nonprofits and agencies like CareSource and ANDP to move Atlanta forward,” said Mayor Andre Dickens in the release.

The Atlanta City Council approved legislation last week to authorize the transfer of $400,000 to the Metro Atlanta Land Bank Authority to create affordable housing developments. 

Dickens has also established an Affordable Housing Strike Force with plans to invest nearly $60 million to develop and preserve affordable housing. The mayor’s priority includes development projects on publicly-owned land.  The task force recently named several projects it wanted to fast-track. 

Dyana Bagby

Dyana Bagby is a staff writer for Reporter Newspapers and Atlanta Intown.