HomeAtlanta NewsAya Tower reopens, bringing affordable housing to Atlanta’s East Point

Aya Tower reopens, bringing affordable housing to Atlanta’s East Point

Atlanta, Georgia – The Aya Tower in East Point celebrated its grand reopening with a big event attended by local residents, city officials, community members, and business partners. This marks the completion of a major project to revitalize affordable housing, a collaboration involving the Vecino Group, UnitedHealth Group, the National Affordable Housing Trust, and the East Point Housing Authority. The development not only provides safe, affordable housing but also includes several health and social services in nearby buildings for both Aya Tower residents and the wider community.

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Aya Tower, empty since 2004, underwent a $24 million makeover by the Vecino Group and now offers 88 affordable one- and two-bedroom apartments. These homes are aimed at families making between $30,000 and $40,000 a year. Wingate Properties Management manages the property, which opened its doors to residents earlier in the year.

“This development is poised to be transformative for East Point,” said Wesley Brown, director of development, southeast for the Vecino Group. “Together with our partners, we turned blight into beauty. Even early on, local residents repeatedly shared how excited they were to have this building coming back to life. And community has been key from the beginning — not only in serving the housing need but also in communicating civic pride and the power of place.”

Meanwhile, the Atlanta area, where East Point is located, is one of the largest and fastest-growing regions in the U.S. However, rising housing costs have increasingly burdened low- and middle-income families, with rents climbing rapidly in what was once known as an affordable metropolitan area.

“We look forward to this investment sparking additional local economic vitality and providing relief for those being squeezed by the Atlanta housing crisis,” said Michael Spann, executive director for EPHA. “And residents will benefit all the more from the health and social services that have been made available onsite.”

UnitedHealth Group contributed $18 million to the Aya Tower redevelopment through Low-Income Housing Tax Credits (LIHTC), with additional funds provided by other investors. This continues the company’s long-standing practice of investing in housing tax credits for over a decade.

Beyond financial investment, UnitedHealth Group also played a key role in enhancing Aya Tower’s services by collaborating with Grady Health System to bring in health services and partnering with Goodwill of North Georgia for workforce readiness training. These services, managed by the East Point Housing Authority, will be accessible in the Aya Tower community areas and a newly acquired property nearby, set for future redevelopment.

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“Safe and affordable housing is key to health and wellness,” said Catherine Anderson, senior vice president of health equity strategy, UnitedHealth Group. “UnitedHealth Group is honored to support East Point residents by increasing the availability of housing, as well as supportive services that help ensure better health and wellness among residents.”

Additionally, the Aya Tower redevelopment will include a visual tribute to former East Point Mayor Patsy Jo Hilliard. The Vecino Group and the East Point Housing Authority commissioned a mural in her honor, recognizing her significant contributions to the city’s achievements.

From 1993 to 2006, Mayor Patsy Jo Hilliard played a pivotal role in East Point’s community, leaving a lasting legacy by revitalizing the public library, establishing the city’s first community health clinic, and building strong relationships with civic and business leaders. As the longest-serving mayor and the first woman and African American to hold the position in East Point—and in the state—her contributions are celebrated through a vibrant mural. The artwork, crafted by Atlanta artist Erica Chisolm, features Adinkra symbols and a colorful portrait of Mayor Hilliard, complete with her favorite motto, “be true to thyself.” The mural, a project involving the Atlanta-based art group Living Walls known for their culturally significant public pieces, covers seven stories and was hand-painted, completed in late Spring 2023.

“NAHT is honored to originate and manage UnitedHealth Group’s investment in Aya Tower,” said Lori Little, president & CEO of the National Affordable Housing Trust. “For over three decades, NAHT has helped developers create and preserve affordable homes by connecting them with impact capital investment funds. Our partnership with UnitedHealth Group has provided much-needed capital for quality homes and services, increasing positive health outcomes for families and seniors. Vecino and East Point Housing Authority are to be congratulated for restoring this much needed housing. We are honored to be a part of this effort.”

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UnitedHealth Group’s strategic investments in housing, health, and social services highlight their strong commitment to promoting health equity. According to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, there is a clear link between housing affordability issues and adverse health outcomes.

Leander Thorne

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