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The Stitch is happening. Do it right and make affordability the foundation.

This news seems to make it official: The Stitch is happening in Downtown, due to a (huge) federal grant for the first phase of work, per Councilmember Amir Farokhi. The Stitch project will cover I-75/85 with a cap for about three blocks immediately south of (and adjacent to) the Civic Center MARTA Station in Downtown Atlanta.

Regardless of your feelings on this project, now is the time to hammer away at city leaders to ensure it truly has equitable outcomes including a *lot* of affordable housing.

Some of the very valid concerns voiced about the project have been based on the cost of it, amid a great need for spending elsewhere on things like safe sidewalks and bike lanes. Others have worried about the long-term cost of maintenance. We’ve had these same concerns.

And then there’s the question of equitable outcomes. This part of Downtown was the site of many urban-renewal projects in the mid 20th Century (from the Civic Center to the freeway and beyond) that displaced people, and that created a place that’s occupied too heavily by car infrastructure. But there are other places in Atlanta where the interstates did major damage as well, and they aren’t getting a “stitch” for repair.

Rebuilding it in a way that offers a sense of repair to the whole city – and particularly to the lower-income groups who are most heavily affected by seismic shifts in urban fabric, such as freeways – will require a heavy emphasis on affordable housing.

It needs to be written into the plan in a concrete, unshakeable way that avoids the mistakes we’ve seen in the Beltline with missed opportunities for greatness in affordability and displacement-prevention. Now that The Stitch seems inevitable, we have to do it right.