Housing Subsidy Helps APD Officers Become Buckhead Residents
This is a Saporta Report Thought Leadership piece
In 2019, the Buckhead Community Improvement District and Livable Buckhead created a program to help more Atlanta Police Department officers call Buckhead home. The Buckhead officer housing subsidy program is rooted in the idea that police officers can be more effective in their jobs when they live in the communities they serve. However, it’s no secret that housing in Buckhead is expensive and might be beyond the reach of a public safety officer’s salary. A monthly subsidy of $650 can help make Buckhead rent be within reach.
To get a first-person perspective on what it’s like to be an APD officer living in Buckhead, we spoke with two of the program’s participants, Briana Butler and Terrence Abner.
How did the subsidy play a role in your decision to live in Buckhead?
Briana: I have always wanted to live In Buckhead since I moved to Atlanta two years ago. Once my lease was up for my previous apartment, I told myself that I would start looking in the Buckhead area. After I graduated the academy and was placed in Zone 2, I knew it was a matter of time until I would be a Buckhead resident. I love Buckhead even more because I spent most of my time here. The subsidy is one of the main reasons I was able to move to Buckhead so quickly and still be able to have a quality of life. Buckhead is so expensive, but with this program, I can be a part of this wonderful community but also not have to worry about working intensively or falling behind in my rent.
Terrence: The subsidy played a significant role in my decision to move into Buckhead, due to the high cost of living in this affluent area. Another factor was the distance to my current workplace. Now I’m less than five minutes away. It’s incredible! Yes, the subsidy was the main factor.
What are the benefits of living and working in Buckhead?
Briana: This is the most exciting combination. I love the fact that I live in the community that I work in. It gives me the opportunity to be a part of this community in both aspects of my life. By living in the community, I understand many of the citizens’ emotions towards the issues and concerns that they have for themselves and their families. It also allows me to do my job better because I see firsthand what’s going on when we are not at work. It also allows me to help my colleagues and guide them to the issues as a resident and citizen and not just a police officer.
Terrence: My favorite benefit is that I am extremely close to work, so I save expenses on gas and maintenance on my vehicle. My second benefit is there’s an abundance of shopping and events to attend all the time.
Based on your perspective, what are the benefits of having an officer or first responder as a neighbor in an apartment complex or community?
Briana: I believe that the community loves having a police officer in their building, especially the security and the concierge. I have developed a great relationship with the concierges as they are working 24 hours and so am I. It also allows the community to see police in a different light. It makes them feel as though they matter and that they have another set of eyes for protection to assure they are safe.
Officers receiving the housing subsidy are asked to support the Buckhead community by providing two hours each week. How have you contributed service hours in the community?
Briana: I spend a lot of my time bridging the gap between police and the community. I like to walk my dog, go to the park or the grocery store in half-uniform and ask someone how their day is going. I like helping the elderly with their groceries or just be their listening ear because all they want is a friend. In my short time here, I did realize that the elderly are the ones who support police officers and will do anything to make sure we stay safe. They give me positive reinforcement back and let me know constantly how proud and how happy to have us in the community.
Is there anything else about this program or Buckhead that you’d like to share?
Briana: I do believe this program is VERY needed and a great way to start shaping Buckhead back. I think that every police officer who is granted this opportunity should take it. Most of us became a police officer for the right reasons and if you want to make a difference in the community, this is the perfect way to start. I like this program because it’s not as structured as many programs and allow you the freedom to put your two hours anywhere in Buckhead serving the community. In my past month, I have served over two hours a week because I like what I do. People in my building stop me all the time, just to say hello and that right there will forever keep me going.