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Study: If more workers could afford to live in Buckhead, traffic congestion would subside

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But is that feasible in such an expensive Atlanta subdistrict?

The Buckhead skyline features glassy blue buildings beneath a blue sky.
Insert affordable living here?
Paul Peterson

Research has shown that the vast majority of people who work in Buckhead can’t afford to live there.

Today, only 8 percent of the neighborhood’s workforce—about 6,100 people—lives in the upscale subdistrict, which means most people are commuting to work daily, contributing to notoriously hellish traffic congestion.

Is there any hope for improvement? Maybe.

A study just published by Livable Buckhead and the Buckhead Community Improvement District spitballs ways to get more workers planted nearby.

If that 6,100-person figure could be tripled, the study suggests, up to 300,000 miles of daily commuting could be eliminated.

Making that happen, though, is easier said than done.

One avenue could be educating employers about renter programs that could help decrease their workers’ housing costs.

“That can help our traffic problem right out of the gate,” commented Livable Buckhead’s leader Denise Starling in the study. “It also helps ensure that as new housing units come on the market that a growing percentage of them will be occupied by people who want to both live and work in Buckhead.”

The Buckhead Housing and Commute Study also looked at how many employees in Buckhead would consider moving to the tony neighborhood and how much housing would be needed to accommodate them.

It turns out the community would need some 12,000 new residences, “split evenly between market-rate options that appeal to high-income households and units that are affordable for households making $50,000 or less annually.”

But with property values as high as they are in Buckhead, building cheaper units isn’t exactly commonplace or widely feasible right now.

So, researchers with HR&A Advisors, which conducted the study, proposed programs that achieve those ambitions by way of investment in workforce housing, co-living, and micro-units.

Housing incentive programs could help, too.

“Putting moderately priced housing in Buckhead can make a real difference in the lives of the people who work here by giving them access to high-quality healthcare and great schools, and reducing their transportation costs,” Starling said.