How micro homes and ADUs can help relieve Atlanta’s housing crisis

The Cottages on Vaughan in Clarkston, Georgia, is the state's first tiny home community.

During a recent appearance discussing affordable housing initiatives on “Closer Look,” Atlanta Mayor Andre Dickens said he has no plans to make changes to single-family zoning, despite moves by other U.S. cities in an effort to encourage multifamily development and alleviate the housing crisis.

But the mayor added that promoting a diversity of housing stock could still come through accessory dwelling units, tiny homes and other forms of housing not seen across much of the city.

On this edition of “Closer Look,” guests with backgrounds in sustainability and micro housing development share their experience in working with local governments and encouraging new styles of single-family homeownership.

Through the MicroLife Institute, executive director Will Johnston led the development of Georgia’s first tiny house community, The Cottages on Vaughan in Clarkston. He says making denser living attractive will require local leaders to be clear to the public on the benefits of proper zoning regulations.

“We need to be allowed to be creative with that space. We have large lots in Atlanta … we also need to be able to allow them to have a diverse mix of groups to be able to live on those lots. And we need to not be afraid of the people who move into those lots,” Johnston said. “That also comes back to zoning education.”

Johnston was also joined by Wanona Satcher of Makhers Studio, who added that the city needs to think about affordable housing beyond government-owned land.

“Mayor Dickens said we have 2,000 acres, talking about public-owned property,” Satcher said. “But let’s look at the existing communities, the existing context of private-owned properties with backyards that are near transit, that are near community services … for those needing affordable housing to be self-sufficient.”