17 Nov Housing at its Core: Residential Affordability in Atlanta’s Five-County Core Area
ULI Atlanta and KB Advisory Group release update to 2018 housing study, identifying the progress and persistent challenges of affordable housing in the Atlanta region.
Five years ago, ULI Atlanta engaged KB Advisory Group to conduct a housing study for the Atlanta region. This study, Affordable Atlanta, identified a significant need for affordable housing in the five-county core- Cobb, Clayton, DeKalb, Fulton, and Gwinnett counties. The report was a catalyst for collaborative action in seeking solutions to the region’s housing affordability issues.
The updated study, Housing at its Core: Residential Affordability in Atlanta’s Five-County Core Area, highlights the persistent challenges the region faces in providing equitable, affordable housing to all residents, ultimately recommending the region utilize the “power of leverage” to improve affordability.
Spectrum of Housing: Affordable to Whom?
Over the past five years, the escalating cost of housing in the Atlanta region has outpaced the growth of wages. The region’s food service workers, construction workers, firefighters, postal workers, and elementary school teachers, are particularly vulnerable to the consequences of this trend. These essential workers are often extremely low to middle income earners in need of affordable housing. Ensuring adequate and affordable housing across all income levels is not just essential for the stability of Atlanta’s economy but also for improving the quality of life for all its residents.
Cost Burden in the Core Counties
In 2018, approximately 340,000 “affordable” households- earning at or below 80% of the Area Median Income (AMI)- in the five-county core were cost burdened. Today, that number has grown to over 390,000 “affordable” cost-burdened households.
Cost burden in the core counties is not shared by all equally, either—1 in 4 non-white households in the 5-county core are cost burdened, with Black or African American households experiencing cost burden in the greatest numbers. Additionally, households making less than 50% AMI represent 71% of all five-county core cost burdened households.
The enormity of the challenge is underscored by analysts who estimate a monthly cost of $270 million to “subsidize” the 390,000 “affordable” households currently experiencing cost burden. This theoretical financial subsidy demonstrates the enormity of the issue and the cost to solve it. Both market rate and subsidized solutions are needed to address the need for affordable housing. The cost of inaction is even greater.
The Power of Leverage
The public, non-profit, philanthropic, and private sectors, all actors in the Atlanta housing ecosystem, should work to provide the resources needed to fund the proverbial “capital stack” for affordable housing. To achieve this, a dedicated regional “voice” and funding sources are needed to assist ALL regional communities in implementing relevant HouseATL Strategic Recommendations, which call on municipalities and counties to support and incentivize housing production and preservation, employ resources where they are needed most, and leverage partnerships and networks. It is through this collective power of leverage that we can overcome the challenges and create a more affordable and sustainable housing landscape for Atlanta’s future.
Read and download the full study, Housing at its Core: Residential Affordability in Atlanta’s Five-County Core Area, here.
Read about the presentation of the Housing at its Core: Residential Affordability in Atlanta’s Five-County Core Area study at the ULI Atlanta – Emerging Trends event here.