Atlanta, GA

As housing affordability worsens, what will it take for Atlanta to better use residential space?

AtlantaCivicCircle

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A Place Properties home being dropped onto a foundation in English Avenue.(Credit: Lydia Mayfield Photography)

When Atlanta Civic Circle reported on metro housing leaders’ visions for denser, more diverse, and, therefore, more affordable residential communities this time last year, it gave public officials plenty of food for thought—and even some explicit legislative proposals.

So what’s changed since then? Not much, housing experts said this week.

“We certainly haven’t seen any improvement in regulation, or use of existing resources that I’ve seen—certainly not to the degree necessary to keep pace with demand,” Atticus LeBlanc, the CEO of start-up PadSplit, a management service for homeowners renting rooms to multiple tenants, told Atlanta Civic Circle last week.

Our March 2021 story spotlighted several ways to better use existing urban space to expand affordable housing as the metro population booms: updating the city of Atlanta’s zoning code to make more efficient use of residential land; cracking down on neglectful property owners who allow intown buildings to fall into disrepair; and using innovative construction, like modular housing, to produce affordable housing in communities where it’s shrinking at an alarming rate.

Today, Atlanta loses affordable housing far faster than it produces it. And with construction and land costs skyrocketing, the city can’t just build its way out of the affordable housing crisis. Meanwhile, the metro area is dotted with dilapidated and abandoned private houses ripe for rehabilitation, the city government is sitting on hundreds of acres of development-ready land, and most of the residential land in town is zoned exclusively for single-family homes.

As our story last year concluded: “Atlanta’s potential for affordability and accomodation is endless, it seems. We just need to fundamentally restructure the way we think about planning, building, and using what we’ve got.”

Atlanta Civic Circle.

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