By Council Member Liliana Bakhtiari
It is hard to believe that I am officially one year into my first term on the Atlanta City Council. And what a year it has been! Over the last 12 months, we have: authored 82 pieces of legislation; hosted 20 community stakeholder meetings and forums; attended 62 committee meetings; served as guest speaker at over 15 schools and special events; participated in 21 full council meetings; lead 6 committee work sessions; joined hundreds of neighborhood meetings, NPU meetings, and events; and fielded over 3,500 calls of constituent case work.
It has been the honor of a lifetime to serve our community and help so many people. Here are a few highlights from the last year. Over the past year, we have accomplished so much for District 5 and for the City of Atlanta as a whole. While I am proud of every piece of legislation I authored, here are a few standouts:
Just days before the landmark Dobbs decision by the Supreme Court that overturned Roe v. Wade, our resolution 22-R-3711 passed unanimously. This resolution directed the Atlanta Police Department to place reports of abortion-related care at the lowest possible priority, and stated that no city funds will be used to record and/or investigate reports of abortion care. And just over one month later, we passed 22-R-3981, another paper I authored allocating $500K to the National Network of Abortion Funds to establish an abortion trust fund to cover travel costs for individuals seeking abortion care. I am grateful to the administration for standing with birthing people as we work to protect their bodily autonomy.
In July, 22-R-3862, our legislation allocating $500K to Atlanta Volunteer Lawyers Foundation for our Access to Counsel pilot program passed unanimously. This funding will be used to provide legal representation to individuals facing eviction. The data clearly demonstrates both the need for and efficacy of this program. Other major cities, for example, found that when represented by an attorney, 80% of folks at risk were not ultimately evicted. This is an important piece of the housing puzzle as we work to preserve affordable housing and keep vulnerable families in their homes. After months of work with AVLF, Housing Justice League, the Guild, and the National Coalition for a Civil Right to Counsel, I am thrilled to see this legislation being implemented and excited for the potential to help so many people.
And to round out the year, I was thrilled to author 22-R-4617, calling upon residential housing developments receiving City subsidies or incentives to recognize house choice vouchers as fungible income to qualified participants. This would open quality and affordable housing options across Atlanta to very low-income families, the elderly, and disabled. With the support of a majority of my colleagues and public buy-in from Atlanta BeltLine Inc., Atlanta Housing, the Fulton County Development Authority, and Invest Atlanta, we are already seeing the positive impacts of this legislation. This resolution goes beyond just beginning the conversation on how we can create access to housing for our community’s most vulnerable. It is an affirmative, results-oriented solution that understands the economics of the market and corrects a historic inequity.
One of the highlights of serving on the Atlanta City Council is working alongside my colleagues for the betterment of Atlanta as a whole. As a member of the Finance Committee, I was honored to join my colleagues in drafting the FY23 budget which included: Wage increases for frontline staff members, including Atlanta firefighters, 311 agents, AIM critical hires, Atlanta Department of Transportation, and the Department of Parks and Recreation; a cost-of-living adjustment for all other city employees; investments to expand operations for At-Promise Youth Centers; investments in parks and greenspace; increased funding for HouseProud Atlanta for senior home repairs; increased funding for the Streets Alive Program; funding allocated to each Council district, at-large districts, and the Council President for Small Business Associations; and increased funding for the Affordable Housing Trust Fund.
Additionally, I was proud to co-sponsor several pieces of legislation including two standouts: 22-R-4801 – a resolution recommending the establishment of an E-Bicycle Rebate Program. I am excited to see where this legislation leads us in 2023. 22-O-1679 – an ordinance I co-authored, re-establishing a tuition reimbursement program for all City employees so that they may continue their educations and advance their careers.
Thank you for continuing to push me as I fight for you down at Atlanta City Hall. Cheers to 3 more years of this hard and rewarding work!
Atlanta City Council District 5 includes portions of Grant Park, North Ormewood Park, and East Atlanta.