About the Metro Atlanta Housing Strategy

The Atlanta region must offer greater access to quality, affordable housing to maintain our strong economy and high quality of life and empower residents by providing the opportunities they need to succeed.

Metro Atlanta has long been an affordable place to live, helping fuel our explosive growth. We need to invest in housing in order to keep this competitive advantage and meet the needs of households across the region.

Good housing options should be widely available, in communities large and small, urban and suburban. We all need places to live that won’t break our budgets while offering access to vital resources like healthy food, proximity to job centers, and quality transportation options.

The trend lines are clear: housing prices are rising much faster than wages. The supply of housing isn’t keeping up with our fast-growing population, further boosting costs. More than one in three households in our region are “cost burdened” – that is, they spend more than 30% of their income on housing. A strategic, regional approach is needed to increase supply, reduce costs, and preserve affordable units. Our goal: promoting a stronger, healthier housing market that works for everyone.

Download the Executive Summary

How the Metro Atlanta Housing Strategy Works

The Metro Atlanta Housing Strategy provides detailed information and data about the region’s housing market and offers a set of actionable steps that local communities can consider taking to address their housing issues.

The goal: fostering a greater mix of housing options reflective of each community’s specific needs.

Elected officials, civic and businesses leaders and residents are encouraged to use this toolkit to learn more about the housing situation in their communities and begin to explore what steps they should consider taking to bring about change.

10 Submarkets
The housing market in metro Atlanta is highly diverse. Housing types vary greatly, even within the same ZIP code. At the same time, the housing landscape in one part of the region may be similar to that of another across town.

The Metro Atlanta Housing Strategy acknowledges this complexity by breaking the Atlanta region into 10 “submarkets” based on characteristics such as average sales price, age, type, and size. These submarkets cross city and county lines, and they include non-contiguous sections.

View the Submarkets

6 Strategies
Six overarching factors have been identified that address different aspects of the region’s housing challenge. Progress in these areas is needed to bring about meaningful change:

  • Increase housing supply
  • Preserve affordable supply
  • Reduce housing and transportation costs
  • Expand capital resources
  • Promote housing stability
  • Develop leadership and collaboration on affordability
View the Strategies

A Collaborative Development Process

The development of the Metro Atlanta Housing Strategy was the result of extensive outreach and discussions with a broad audience that included policy makers, local government officials, business and nonprofit leaders, and other important partners.

The work grew out of ARC’s Regional Economic Development plan, known as CATLYST. The plan identified “healthy housing” as a priority for metro Atlanta to remain economically competitive, providing a platform for additional perspectives and stakeholders involved in addressing this issue.

The Metro Atlanta Housing Strategy adopted a framework developed by Atlanta’s Urban Land Institute in its “Affordable Atlanta” report.

The Strategic Framework

Each of the six broad strategies are associated with measurable data points and actionable tactics, creating a framework to address communities’ housing challenges.

STRATEGY: Increase housing supply
Increase housing supply to promote affordability by providing the necessary tools for developers to bring more housing to market, concentrating on mid-priced and affordable units.

TRENDLINE: Supply is low while population growth pushes up demand and costs

  • The inventory of homes for sale remains low, at about 8,000 per month.
  • Residential building permits in metro Atlanta are at about 1/3 pre-recession levels.

Source: Zillow, State of the Cities Data Systems

STRATEGY: Preserve affordable supply
Preserve affordable supply of affordable housing units, including those with legal protections in place to ensure that they remain accessible to low- to moderate-income households.

TRENDLINE: Existing supply of affordable units is declining

  • In metro Atlanta, just 23,000 units renting for $1,000 or less have been built since 2000.
  • About 27% of housing units in metro Atlanta rented for less than $800 a month in 2012, compared to 19% in 2017.

Source: U.S. Census, CoStar

STRATEGY: Reduce costs
Reduce housing and transportation costs by increasing housing options near job centers and advancing mobility options throughout the region.

TRENDLINE: Housing costs are rising more sharply then income: transportation costs deepen metro Atlanta’s affordability challenge

  • Rents are about 50% higher in and around major employment centers
  • Average rent has increased 35% while wages only risen 15% between

Source: Zillow, BEA, U.S. Census

STRATEGY: Expand capital resources
Expand capital resources by providing financial incentives and mechanisms to foster the creation and preservation of affordable housing units.

TRENDLINE: Cost of construction continues to rise sharply, impacting the entire housing market

  • Nationally, average cost of home construction has increased by 24% since 2013

Source: U.S. Census

STRATEGY: Promote housing stability
Promote housing stability by strengthening the ability of families to stay, access, and afford the costs of housing in both ownership and rental.

TRENDLINE: Home Ownership Rates Remain Down, Putting Community Stability at Risk

  • Home ownership down 3% since the Great Recession (source: U.S. Census)
  • 10% of region’s homes with a mortgage have negative equity and are ‘under water’ (source: Zillow)
STRATEGY: Develop leadership
Develop leadership and collaboration on housing to promote and enable education, communication, and collaboration around housing issues.

There’s a growing desire to address housing issues in the region. Efforts include:

  • City of Atlanta’s commitment and implementation
  • HouseATL
  • Regional Housing Task Force
  • Regional Housing Forum
  • Brookhaven Inclusionary Zoning Ordinance
  • Local Housing Task Forces – Norcross, Smyrna, Fairburn, Union city, Brookhaven, Roswell, and more
  • ULI Affordable Atlanta Study
  • Sandy Springs Together

The Impact

Increasing access to quality, affordable housing will help the entire region thrive.

Person working in a factoryStronger Economy
Metro Atlanta will remain a destination for employers looking to relocate or expand, keeping our economy growing. Businesses will find it easier to hire and retain workers who are able to find housing close to job centers.

School children raising their hands in classBetter Quality of Life
Communities and schools will become more stable, as fewer families move in search of cheaper rent. More affordable housing options also means fewer people will have to put off spending on vital services, such as healthcare.

Older female smiling in front of her homeGreater Opportunities and Reduced Inequality
Increased levels of home ownership will help people build wealth and climb the socio-economic ladder, and help reduce the “wealth gap” that exists between owners and renters.

Atlanta street with trafficReduced Traffic Congestion
More people will be able to live closer to where they work. That means fewer vehicles on the road, reduced traffic congestion, and improved air quality.