If you need numbers to prove affordable housing is an issue for Atlanta, you’ll get them from Georgia State professor Dan Immergluck.
He’s analyzed rents.
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“Over the last three years, we’ve seen rents in many neighborhoods go up 15 percent, 20 percent,” Immergluck said. “Some neighborhoods 40, 45 percent.”
He’s followed the cost of homes:
“Housing prices in the city, not near the Atlanta BeltLine, have gone up 30 percent,” from 2011-2015, he said. “Near the BeltLine, 50-55 percent.”
And he’s reviewed census data, showing over a four-year period, “the city lost over 5,000 rental units that rent for less than 750 a month.”
Immergluck can also tell you what makes these numbers pressing.
Atlanta, he said, doesn’t have the policies to address them, like requirements for developers to build affordable units.
“If we don’t develop those affordable housing strategies, eventually we run the risk of becoming a San Francisco,” he said.
In other words, a city for the wealthy.
Chuck Young, a developer with Prestwick Companies, doesn’t disagree. He’s seen the demand to get into one of his affordable housing developments:
“For our three-bedroom units, we have a 400-family waiting list. And if I had anywhere else to send them, I would. It just doesn’t exist,” Young said.
His company can build low-cost units by using state tax credits. But he said those programs are few.
Meanwhile, construction costs have soared.
“Right now, if I just went and bought a piece of property, to develop that property, you’re looking at $1,300 a month,” Young said. “And that’s as cheap as you can deliver right now.”
To lower the rent, he said, developers will need help from the city, in the form of subsidies or property tax breaks.
That is going to take money and — both Immergluck and Young acknowledge — some political will.
Atlanta voters are preparing to elect a new mayor and replace nearly half the City Council. In this moment of transition, WABE is exploring “The Future of Atlanta.”