Atlanta unveils affordable housing plan

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Dive Brief:

Dive Insight:

Since 2000, Atlanta's population has grown 17% to 486,000 people, making it one of the fastest growing cities in the United States. But wages are not keeping up with rising rents, especially for longtime residents. From 2000 to 2017, Atlanta's median income increased 46% while median rents increased 70%.

Atlanta's housing development slowed after the recession in 2008 but has since returned to nearly pre-recession levels. However, much of the new construction caters to luxury, high-income renters. The plan says Atlanta's housing supply needs to keep pace with the demand of low and middle-income residents.

That's especially true to curb displacement of longtime residents. The city's new residents tend to have higher incomes and can more easily afford luxury units, but longtime residents haven't experienced wage growth to the same extent and are getting priced out of their neighborhoods. In addition, disparities are worsening across neighborhoods. Low-income citizens and communities of color are putting larger portions of their income toward housing.

Bottoms has acknowledged in the past that Atlanta's housing crisis is different from some other cities' because it still has land to develop. Boston, New York and San Francisco represent cities experiencing housing affordability issues but they don't have much — if any — vacant land to develop; growth in these cities tends to come from redeveloping a site and building a larger structure on it with more capacity. One of the strategies addresses this by suggesting the city leverage underutilized public land for housing.

The new plan says the city needs to create and preserve more affordable housing if it wants to continue to be a destination for business and development. On the other hand, the housing crunch didn't happen overnight —it grew over multiple decades because of a variety of factors — and will take time to solve.