Atlanta BeltLine Inc. officials have named a new chief equity and inclusion officer, as they continue battling concerns over affordable housing and a lack of economic mobility inside the city.
Nonet Sykes was recently hired to plan and manage goals for equity and inclusion along the Beltline, a 22-mile loop of abandoned railroads that will connect 45 intown neighborhoods.
Some Beltline neighborhoods that sought economic growth for years are now seeing new investment pour into the area, forcing housing costs and commercial rents soar to prices that are out of reach.
Brian McGowan, president and CEO of Atlanta BeltLine Inc, said, “As we tackle issues like affordability and income mobility, we need to focus on creating opportunities that benefit everyone, not just a few.”
As the new chief equity and inclusion officer, Sykes will form policies that help Beltline communities address sustainability, concerns over displacement, and long-term affordable housing efforts.
“The Atlanta BeltLine is in a unique position to spur positive transformation at the deepest level of our city’s fabric,” Sykes said. “Building a comprehensive transportation and development network that serves the needs of everyone can level the playing field and shift opportunities and access to resources that can fundamentally address Atlanta’s challenges.”
Sykes was previously director of race, equity, and inclusion at the Annie E. Casey Foundation. Before that, she was director of programs for the Maryland Center for Community Development. She also served as executive director of Tri-Churches Housing Inc. and community development specialist with the Baltimore Community Development Financing Corp.
It’s the latest move centered on affordability for the BeltLine. Earlier this year, Dwayne Vaughn was named first-ever vice president of housing policy and development, charged with addressing affordability along the Beltline — one of the nation’s largest urban renewal projects.