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Atlanta applauded for taking steps toward greater affordability amid ‘shortfall’

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National study salutes “regulatory interventions” in Atlanta and four other cities, but will it be enough?

Pictured here, growing Midtown is ground zero for Atlanta’s explosion of pricey apartments.
Midtown is ground zero for Atlanta’s explosion of pricey apartments.
Curbed Atlanta

Frustrated millennials throughout Atlanta’s core could take issue with a recent study that applauds the city’s efforts to reserve some housing for regular folks, but the findings shine a positive national spotlight on Atlanta and a handful of other large municipalities.

The National Affordable Housing Management Association—described as a “leading voice” in the fight for affordable housing in the U.S.—highlighted actions by Atlanta government leaders and developers in an analysis of rental conditions in cities across the land, noting that teachers, firefighters, police, retirees, and others are having difficulty affording to live in the cities they serve.

Atlanta joined Denver, Minneapolis, San Diego, and Columbus, Ohio as leading examples of cities working to correct that, per NAHMA.

NAHMA summarized the local situation as follows:

“The City of Atlanta is currently experiencing a surge in multifamily housing construction brought about by a strong regional economy and growing demand for urban living. However, most of the rental housing delivered over the course of the last several years is unattainable to entry-level employees and public servants working in the municipality proper.”

But there is good news!

Per the study, “regulatory interventions” in Atlanta are aiming to address an affordable housing shortfall that, as is, “leaves one out of every two renters, or approximately 50,000 renter households, moderately to severely cost burdened.”

These are broader initiatives than the recently unveiled Anti-Displacement Tax Fund Program, which will help qualified homeowners in Vine City, English Avenue, Ashview Heights, and Atlanta University Center communities with rising property taxes.

At the junction of Old Fourth Ward and Inman Park, the Beltline-hugging Edge project broke ground last month, promising that 30 percent of its 350 apartments will be designated “affordable workforce housing.”
North American Properties

Bisnow National made news of NAHMA’s findings, writing that Atlanta’s efforts toward creating more affordable renting situations have included a mix of public incentives. They summarize those efforts as follows:

  • Overlay zoning in certain neighborhoods can result in density bonuses for developers.
  • As part of the Urban Enterprise Zones program, developers building in economically depressed neighborhoods can request property tax abatements from the city for up to 10 years if the project is demonstrably infeasible sans government funding. These developments must contain 20 percent minimum rental units for tenants earning 60 percent or less of the district’s median income.
  • Local political leaders and developers alike are pushing for greater transparency in closing the housing gap by mandating affordable housing impact statements be presented to council members prior to considering legislative action that could affect affordable housing.

All of that could be good news for Atlantans who view renting as the only option for living intown. And there are many with that mindset.

A recent poll by Apartment List found that 70 percent of Atlanta’s millennials said they can’t afford to buy a house or condo right now—though 85 percent hope to one day.

On the slightly brighter side, NAHMA relays that 47.54 percent of Atlanta renters are cost-burdened. At least that’s below the national average of 50.6 percent.