The Metro Atlanta Housing Strategy features a detailed set of strategies and related tactics designed to improve the region’s housing options.

The strategies listed are not intended to be prescriptive. Rather, it is a guide to help any community grappling with their housing challenges start a conversation, navigate this important and complex issue and provide possible solutions to have thoughtful analysis and discussion about before implementing.

Strategies:

Increase Supply

Provide the necessary tools for developers to contribute to the supply of a variety of both market-rate and affordable housing units.

Preserve Affordable Supply

Ensure that housing units remain accessible to low- to moderate-income households.

Reduce Housing & Transportation Costs

Increase housing options near job centers and advance mobility options throughout the region.

Expand Capital Resources

Provide financial incentives and mechanisms to foster the creation and preservation of affordable housing units.

Promote Housing Stability

Strengthen the ability of families and individuals to stay, access, and afford the costs of housing in both ownership and rental.

Develop Leadership & Collaboration on Affordability

Promote and enable education, communication, and collaboration around housing issues.


Potential tactics:

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Reduce Development Cost and Barriers

Address zoning and land use code that shapes development to provide housing options, including land use options, building sizes, building materials, building forms, parking, and more.
  • Audit zoning code, outlining existing zoning challenges and levers to reduce cost and create more affordable housing.
  • Audit zoning code to quantify how regulations affect cost of housing, with the intent of understanding how to balance local government policy priorities of housing affordability with zoning regulations.
  • Implement zoning to allow co-living arrangements and single room occupancy.
  • Implement zoning to allow for increases in residential density by reducing setbacks, minimum square footage requirements and allowable housing types.
  • Establish mixed-use overlay zones on top of existing zoning ordinances to allow for residential uses on top of other conventional uses.
  • Establish housing overlay zones on top of existing zoning ordinances to provide incentives for developers to build housing, particularly affordable housing, within specific districts. Overlay zones may include a variety of incentives to developers to include affordable units in their projects.
  • Support developments with affordable housing components that meet all requirements of base zoning through expedited permitting processes and streamlined review mechanisms.
  • Create and update searchable inventories of sites available for residential development.
  • Audit and reform construction standards and building codes to get rid of excessive or obsolete standards and codes.
  • Audit construction standards and building codes to quantify how regulations affect cost of housing, with the intent of understanding how to balance local government policy priorities of housing affordability with regulations.
  • Reform construction standards to allow manufactured homes and prefab homes.
  • In appropriate areas, close to transit options and job centers, eliminate minimum parking requirements and establish maximum parking limits.
  • Recommend changes to streamline building permitting and inspections process to relieve time delays.
  • Provide developers with a clear understanding of the information they will need to provide to obtain regulatory approval and what they can expect from local agencies and departments, including creating guides based on existing projects for both developers and public officials that can help move projects more quickly through public involvement, planning, approval, and financing.
  • Waive impact and development fees for affordable housing developments.

Leverage Public Land

Diversify the ways that publicly-owned land is used and managed to provide housing affordability options.
  • Identify and market public land for housing, including identifying priority redevelopment, affordable housing and greenfield sites.
  • Donate land or participate in joint development of identified residential development sites to increase affordable housing.
  • Empower a local agency to lead a regular, cross-agency assessment of opportunities for development of affordable housing on public land.
  • Help to provide "proof of concept" for innovative development types on public land.
  • Develop innovative approaches to address failed partially-developed, abandoned and subdivided tracts, including preparing development sites through site clearance, assemblage and sub division or subsidizing infrastructure development.

Establish Policies Supporting Affordable Housing

Local governments can expand housing-supportive laws and regulations to encourage development of affordable housing.
  • Enact housing affordability requirements in local government programs providing financial incentives for residential development and large community development projects that include significant public investment.
  • Encourage cities and counties to commit percentages of their future housing permits for lower cost housing choices, multifamily development and affordable owner development.
  • Create amnesty programs to legalize existing undocumented Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs) and Detached Accessory Dwelling Units (DADUs).
  • Create pre-approved standard plans for backyard cottages or ADUs.
  • Implement a ""missing middle"" housing ordinance by changing the zoning code to allow property owners in targeted areas of the city to build or renovate duplexes, triplexes, townhomes, and garden-style apartments, among other building types.
  • Implement incentive-based Inclusionary Zoning Ordinance to include a percentage of units affordable to lower-income residents.
  • Establish by-right density bonuses to encourage the production of affordable housing by allowing developers to build more units than would ordinarily be allowed on a site by the underlying zoning code, in exchange for a commitment to include a certain number of below-market units in the development.

Reuse of Building and Land

As communities evolve, identify abandoned building and lands to be reused for housing purposes.
  • Promote adaptive reuse of large, older industrial or commercial buildings for housing by preemptively changing zoning to residential zoning and advertising, helping to preserve the architectural heritage of communities while providing new uses in unused spaces.
  • Promote redevelopment of abandoned shopping mall into mixed income housing by preemptively changing zoning and advertising availability.

Provide Financial Incentives

Provide financial incentives to developers to enable more creative ways to use state/local tax policy and long-range financing in order to preserve existing housing supply.
  • Offer fifteen year homesteader tax exemption on vacant/rehabbed units to first-time affordable homebuyers.
  • Offer tax incentives (tax exemption or abatement) for periods matching affordability period, low-cost loans and technical assistance to private owners agreeing to maintain affordable units.
  • Create public/private funding source that would enable developers to acquire (Naturally Occurring Affordable Housing) NOAHs to those agreed to a period of housing affordability.
  • Provide financial incentive to preserve and renovate historic homes to preserve older housing stock.

Create Policy Incentives

Preserve existing housing supply with policy incentives to make it easier and more affordable to protect existing housing units.
  • Encourage maintenance of existing multifamily units by reaching out to property owners to develop compliance plans with reasonable timeline that is financially feasible.
  • Provide a by-right density bonus for redevelopment of low density affordable projects which maintain affordability.
  • Incentivize rehabilitation of existing housing near services and businesses.
  • Evaluate and direct code enforcement policies and procedures to maintain quality of existing affordable inventory focusing on encouraging code compliance and prioritizing life/safety issues.
  • Provide right of first refusal at tax sales for land banks and developers willing to meet affordability requirements.
  • Mandate housing impact statements for proposed ordinances, code, zoning or land use changes that can affect the cost and affordability of new and existing housing supply.
  • Establish a grace period or waiver on code fines for developers who acquire substandard property and have proof of plans and funding allocated to make improvements.

Coordinate Across Agencies and among Governments

Engage in robust coordination efforts between different levels of government and across various state and local agencies to create, manage, and maintain existing affordable units.
  • Establish regular coordination with other public agencies that are financing existing affordable housing to proactively address potential loss.
  • Create a real time property data information system to distribute gather, consolidate, and synthesize real property data over time (including vacancy, property transactions, property condition, tax, mortgage and lien, utility, and code adherence status) to community organizations and municipal agencies.
  • Leverage existing technology platforms to establish a comprehensive affordable housing database, which will track existing publicly funding/supported affordable properties; enable proactive risk analysis and engagement; and track affordable housing pipeline. Use information to identify properties to engage with owners on ways to incentivize and encourage maintaining affordability.
  • Coordinate different government entities' permitting processes to support preservation projects.
  • Create and use a Land Bank to stabilize housing stock, eliminating blight and removing uninhabitable or functionally obsolete housing from the marketplace by resolving back taxes or title issues that otherwise keep a distressed property stuck in decline. Manage and repurpose an inventory of property to develop a disposition process which priorizes nonprofit ownership and long-term affordability.
  • Create and use Land Trust to incubate and support the development and operation of permanently affordable housing.

Address Blight

Identify and address issues that lead to blight of neighborhoods.
  • Implement an Empty Home Tax, requiring landlords to pay an annual tax for a single family home or entire apartment buildings that are declared vacant for six or more months of a year.
  • Implement a Flipping Houses Tax, imposing an additional fee on the total sales price of certain multi-unit residential properties that are sold within five years of purchase.
  • Conduct a vacant property condition survey collecting parcel-level data focusing on vacancy status and various problem indicators, often usually physical markers and information.
  • Use city programs to clean, green, beautify and improve safety of neighborhoods.
  • Provide resources to code enforcement officers for actively inspecting properties for code violations and assessing property and neighborhood conditions for blighted properties, encouraging code compliance and prioritizing life/safety issues.
  • Deconstruct and remove a structure if deemed necessary to maintain health and safety of the neighborhood.
  • Showcase an asset-based approach to community marketing to help attract new residents and investment.
  • Create and launch a campaign to invest in arts and culture strategies, as well as green/urban infrastructure, to highlight the existing assets and history of neighborhoods.

Implement Community Development Strategies

Allow opportunities for housing options within a half-mile of mobility options, job centers, and community services.
  • Provide developers various financial to place affordable rental units near employment centers and transit.
  • Changing zoning for properties near, high traffic corridors, employment centers and transit to allow for higher density and affordable housing options.
  • Evaluate opportunities for affordable housing developments that share land with public facilities, such as libraries, rec centers, etc.
  • Undertake a local housing plan to identify unique set of assets and challenges to future needs. These plans should include market analysis, code and zoning audit and recommendations, and recommended strategies to plan for the housing needs of current and future residents.
  • Permit basic services and businesses within walking distance of residences in zoning regulations.
  • Permit new multifamily development at/near job and commercial centers.
  • Donate/discount public owned land for non-profits or for for-profit developers to build affordable housing around future and current transit lines and BRT.
  • Engage in zoning audit in order to ensure compliance with Comprehensive Plan specifically around providing housing choice for current and future residents.
  • Engage in joint Comprehensive and Zoning rewrites in order to coordinate efforts and implement visions.
  • Reduce parking requirements in certain neighborhoods that have access to transportation options.
  • Continue to invest in downtown and intown areas.
  • Provide access to Atlanta Regional Commission's Technical Assistance and Livable Communities Initiative to engage in further studying future policy and zoning changes needed to accomplish communities goals.
  • Define affordability in all different types of communities and set development targets for various AMI levels.
  • Analyze and address the housing needs of specific vulnerable populations - veterans, disabled, low income, homeless, older people, and children.

Expand Transportation Options

Leverage existing transportation options and create new ones to lower transportation cost and reduce traffic.
  • Conduct transit feasibility studies to extend either bus or rail.
  • Provide discounted MARTA passes for one year to new affordable renters within ½ mile of stations.
  • Expand commuter bus transit on commercial corridors with substantial housing.
  • Create a transit-as-utilities package for seniors and low-income or reduced fare MARTA users.
  • Invest in connectivity to downtown areas with walking and bicycling infrastructure, implementing complete streets.

Create and Attract New Financing Mechanisms

New funding mechanisms are needed to promote and incentivize the development and preservation of affordable housing.
  • Provide gap funding for 4% LIHTC financing to enable the full utilization of 4% tax credit programs for acquisition and rehab of residential buildings.
  • Create development capital program for small developers creating or rehabbing affordable units.
  • Operate a collaborative funders table of public, private and philanthropic partners that come together to swiftly coordinate and solve barriers enabling the environment for pipeline production and promotion of equitable development.
  • Partner with property owners to determine financial need to maintain and improve property and cover property tax increases without increasing rental rates.
  • Create a state, regional, and local Housing Trust fund with a dedicated revenue source.
  • Support efforts to enact a State constitutional amendment to dedicate revenue to state housing trust fund.
  • Support or join efforts to enact State-enabling legislation that would expand revenue options available for cities, counties, and regions to dedicate to a local housing trust fund or affordable housing development.
  • Use federal Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) funds to build and preserve affordable housing, and work with allocating agencies to prioritize and identify needs; CDBG funds can be used for pre-development, site acquisition, site improvements, property acquisition, property rehabilitation, and first-time homebuyer assistance.
  • Create a long-term, low-cost financing mechanism to recapitalize and preserve LIHTC properties at Year 15 to preserve the affordability of the property and address the issue of early-exiting owners.
  • Maximize allocation for and utilization of New Markets Tax Credits (NMTC) by developers to fund construction and acquisition/rehab of affordable singlefamily housing in low-income/high-poverty neighborhoods.
  • Leverage Opportunity Zone funding to create an equity resource for affordable housing development in qualified census tracts.
  • Create a transparent coordinated public private funding system aligning with shared priorities and affordable housing goals.
  • Engage the social impact-focused private sector to create low-cost equity funds and support gap funding for affordable housing development and preservation.
  • Evaluate and analyze local government budget for funding opportunities to redirect to housing needs.
  • Create Land Acquisition fund to support housing development by acquiring sites for future development of housing or to acquire and preserve existing affordable housing before land and property values increase.
  • Educate local philanthropies on program-related investments (PRIs) and encourage them to establish individually, or through a pool, to fund acquisition and possibly pre-development activities.
  • Use general funds to establish revolving loan fund (RLF) for pre-development and acquisition of naturally occurring affordable housing (NOAHs).
  • Develop a regional financing mechanism to foster affordable housing with partners in the public, private, non-profit, and philanthropic sectors.

Implement Tax or Bond Financing Mechanisms

Cities and counties can use government power to enable bond and tax financing mechanisms to provide financing for affordable housing.
  • Use General Obligation Bond at the municipal or county level to fund affordable housing and homeless housing needs.
  • Use Housing Opportunity Bond at the municipal or county level to fund affordable housing and homeless housing needs.
  • Expand and use Urban Enterprise Zone (UEZ) program to provide tax abatements to new affordable rental projects.
  • Create TAD’s in appropriate LCI and Town Centers to use as an incentive for affordable, mixed-use housing.
  • Establish a tax on surface parking lots from commercial and/or city-owned parking towards housing development.
  • Explore creating a Sharing Economy Tax – tax on Airbnb, Uber, Lyft, etc. – that is then directed towards housing development.
  • The Multifamily Property Tax Exemption (MFTE) Program provides a tax exemption on new multifamily buildings in exchange for setting aside 20-25% of the homes as income- and rent-restricted.

Stabilize Existing Residents

Implement supportive educational programs and financial policies for residents to stabilize their current housing.
  • Develop community retention plans, identifying strategies to combat the loss of legacy residents and businesses that are experiencing or are at-risk of being priced out of their neighborhood.
  • Implement a flat dollar-amount Homestead Exemption or tax circuit breakers for low-income residents or seniors.
  • Apply and use the Community HOME Investment Program (CHIP) to provide granting funds to city and county governments, public housing authorities, and nonprofits to rehabilitate owner-occupied homes and build and renovate affordable single family homes for sale to eligible homebuyers.
  • Provide weatherization and housing repair resources and compile tool kits of available resources.
  • Connect entrepreneurship and ownership opportunities to lower-wage workers in order to form new businesses.
  • Develop a toolbox of financing & leasing options for legacy business owners to be able to remain in place.
  • Coordinate support programs and services that help residents maintain their health, wellbeing, and independence.
  • Support programs/services (such as workforce development programs) that help residents move from minimum wage to middle wage jobs Advertise HomeSafe Georgia, a state-operated mortgage assistance program that helps homeowners avoid foreclosure through mortgage payment modifications.
  • Implement Anti-Displacement Tax Fund to help qualifying low-income families in at-risk neighborhoods stay in their homes by covering incremental increases in property taxes.
  • Address extended-stay hotel situations by providing access to payment assistance programs.
  • Decriminalize code enforcement and ensure code enforcement programs are tied to home repair programs for both single family and multifamily properties.
  • Provide low interest loans or grants to existing homeowners to rehabilitate their property.
  • Implement universal design elements, also known as "visitability", such as no step entries and wider doorways in development codes.

Promote Home Buying

Provide financial assistance and education to promote home buying.
  • Provide down payment assistance for first-time buyers of affordable homes.
  • Develop a Family-Self Sufficiency Program - A comprehensive wealth-building program for residents and businesses including basics of homeownership, creating a realistic budget prior to purchase, foreclosure prevention, funding options for first-time buyers, financial education and literacy workshops/coaching, local job training programs, etc.

Create Quality Rental Opportunities

Ensure the availability, safety and quality of rental opportunities.
  • Partner with apartment owners and property managers to encourage higher participation and acceptance of Tenant Based Voucher programs.
  • Create a public housing agency to provide information and financial expenses for rent assistance and availability of subsidized housing through existing inventory, Section 8 Project-Based Vouchers and Project-Based Rental Assistance programs.
  • Maximize the project-based rental assistance programs that allow tenants to live in an affordable unit and pay rent based on their income, by contracting with private owners to rent some or all of the units in their housing developments to low-income families.
  • Establish a local housing voucher program through a local public housing authority.
  • Work with housing authorities to evaluate and streamline voucher requirements inline with general leasing processes to impede barriers to the use of the program by landlords.
  • Address high crime multifamily properties by encouraging coordination of on-site property managers with local police department and promote voluntary educational programs for property owners and managers on Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design (CPTED) programs.

Prevent Eviction

Implement targeted efforts to prevent eviction.
  • Create and implement an eviction mitigation strategy that identifies and expands availability of short-term and emergency solutions.
  • Explore opportunities to engage and coordinate with landlords on alternatives to evictions; conduct listening sessions with landlords to better identify issues and solutions.
  • Leverage an existing program or fund for eviction-specific mitigation that links tenants to services.
  • Provide tenant-right education materials and eviction diversion demonstration projects that combine legal services and negotiated emergency rental assistance to prevent evictions, as well as integrate financial literacy programs to help stabilize the home.
  • Work with advocates and apartment owners to develop renters' rights programs and education campaigns.
  • Designate and support housing counseling agency to counsel tenants facing eviction; support operation of an eviction hotline.
  • Create a fund to allow the Continuum of Care to fully staff and provide temporary financial support to prevent and divert families from entering homelessness.
  • Consider working with Atlanta Volunteer Lawyer Foundation and the APS School Board to place eviction attorneys in schools.
  • Connect residents to physical, community, and behavioral health services to help stabilize their independence and housing.

Build Capacity and Internal Resources to Address Housing

Expand internal capacity to address housing needs.
  • Expand local government housing staff and advisors on housing issues for both planning, building and coordinating housing issues and resources.
  • Develop in-house capabilities to monitor compliance with affordable policies in an effective and efficient way.
  • Create a team of internal and external stakeholders to join the Georgia Initiative for Community Housing (GICH) program.
  • Encourage Elected and appointed officials to participate in community development trainings.
  • Create internal cross sectional teams to address housing.
  • Establishes a shared vision for the strategic investment and coordination of housing resources (both on an annual and multi-year sustained basis), grants, donations, philanthropy and resources.
  • Identify a pipeline of potential affordable housing projects and funding analysis of project.
  • Identify policy recommendations at the local, state, and federal agency level that would optimize the alignment and coordination of resources across various agencies and jurisdictions to support families and individuals.
  • Provide capacity-building resources for non-profit and community-based developers and policymakers looking to expand their knowledge base.

Promote Creative Collaboration

Collaborate across various industries, sectors, and organizations to create multi-disciplinary approach to provide housing options.
  • Partner with landlords to lower barriers to entry for low-moderate income residents, and to develop mechanisms to increase preservation of affordability.
  • Create and facilitate a local housing task force with representation from various perspectives to understand jurisdictional issues and opportunities.
  • create more authentic community and civic engagement and empower residents to shape the future of their community.
  • Engage service providers to coordinate resources.
  • Partner with healthcare providers to direct community dollars to build affordable housing.
  • Partner with representatives who own, manage and develop housing in discussions on how to achieve greater affordability in housing.
  • Partner with major employers to coordinate housing and transit assistance programs to benefit low-income workers.
  • Coordinate with school boards, superintendents and principals to provide services and resources to families.
  • Partner with Anchor institutions to build affordable housing or provide financial assistance.
  • Explore partnerships with ride hailing companies to offer reduced fares for low-income residents.
  • Develop Community Benefits Agreements that are created in collaboration with organizations and individuals in communities at risk of displacement.
  • Partner with faith-based organizations and churches to utilize unused land and serve low-income population.

Be a Leader in Housing

Be a part of housing conversations, using tools to educate others and develop solutions to housing issues.
  • Create an education campaign around the need for housing choice in your community.
  • Sponsor citywide/countywide townhall type meetings on affordable housing with expert presenters from varying perspectives.
  • Conduct or identify and compile existing research on benefits of affordable housing to communities, impact on affordable housing or M/F housing on single-family housing property values, crime, schools, etc.
  • Develop leadership training for neighborhood association leaders on the need for a diverse mix of housing types and price points for existing and future residents in relation to impending regional population growth and housing affordability challenges.
  • Invest in a government affairs strategy for state and federal housing policy reform.
  • Lead or participate in a community-driven, grassroots approach to leverage community partnerships and neighborhood organizations to address housing needs.