The Atlanta Regional Commission’s (ARC) housing policies cover a broad array of issues important to the region’s local governments and housing partners. These include the region's housing affordability, housing options, neighborhood redevelopment, and transit-oriented development (TOD). ARC provides current, accessible information to inform regional and local policies.
Regional Housing Issues
Oakland Park Condos, located in the Grant Park neighborhood of Atlanta.
Housing is an essential need for all citizens of the region. Many families are able to find the type of housing that meets their needs at a reasonable cost. Others cannot afford to live in areas of the region where jobs are located. Still others experience changing housing needs but cannot find the appropriate housing type in their area or cannot afford to change housing types or locations.
Housing needs change as the population of the region changes. This applies not only to population size but also characteristics such as age and household income. Many senior citizens desire smaller homes or need homes that meet their changing physical abilities. By contrast, many young families who have lived their lives in certain communities cannot affiord to become homeowners in that area or move to larger living spaces. In addition, as new families move to the region, they often must make a choice between housing that is affordable and a commute that is manageable. The two are mutually exclusive in many cases.
The demands for innovative housing strategies in metro Atlanta will continue to increase as the region grows and changes. Between 2000 and 2010, metro Atlanta led the nation in housing production, yet today the region suffers from a persistent lack of housing appropriate to critical needs, including workforce housing near employment centers.
ARC's Housing Policies
ARC’s housing policies are identified in PLAN 2040, the region's comprehensive blueprint for regional development. These policies identify the need to promote a variety of housing choices in locations that are accessible to jobs and services. They also call for an increase in the supply of senior housing; the creation new affordable housing and the preservation of existing affordable housing; and the equitable distribution of affordable housing opportunities around the metropolitan area.
The primary housing-related objective identified in PLAN 2040 is to "promote places to live with easy access to jobs and services." Promoting residential choices in locations that are accessible to jobs and services can be accomplished by:
- Building compact development in existing communities with integrated land uses that will minimize travel distances and support walking, cycling and transit.
- Increasing housing, services, and employment opportunities around transit stations.
- Providing a range of housing choices to accommodate households of all income levels, sizes and needs and to ensure that workers in the community have the option to live there.
- Protecting the character and integrity of existing neighborhoods while also meeting the needs of the community.
These policies are implemented through a range of local government standards that are laid out to provide local governments options to accomplish their local housing intiatives.
ARC's Housing Programs
ARC leads many housing efforts, including quarterly Regional Housing Forums and housing studies funded through the Livable Centers Initiative (LCI). As the housing needs in the region change, ARC will continue to investigate new strategies to meet the region's housing needs. This is a key factor in the region's challenges in transportation, environmental quality, growth management and community building.
Piece by Piece Regional Foreclosure Initiative
ARC is a partner in the Regional Foreclosure Initiative known as Piece by Piece (PbP), which convenes local governments, state officials, non-profit leaders and others to tackle issues related to the foreclosure crisis in the Atlanta region.
PbP represents a coordinated effort to spur strategic action from the many regional stakeholders who care about protecting the long-term future of metro Atlanta's neighborhoods and communities.
Through PbP, local governments in the Atlanta region have been given the opportunity to optimize their implementation of the federal Neighborhood Stabilization Program (NSP). Learn more about local governments' implementation of NSP in metro Atlanta (PDF).
Regional Housing Support
ARC supports local governments and non-governmental organizations to promote sharing of best practices and dialogue on housing needs. ARC conducts quarterly Regional Housing Forums on various topics and maintains an informative housing website with partner organizations at http://www.atlantaregionalhousing.org.
Livable Center Initiative
Through programs such as the Livable Centers Initiative (LCI) and Community Choices, ARC provides local governments with tools and resources that inspire improved development patterns for housing, land use and transportation throughout the region. Residential developments in LCI areas range from single-family homes to mixed-use, high density housing in urban areas, creating a diverse assortment of residential types throughout the region.
Transit-Oriented Development (TOD)
ARC encourages Transit-Oriented Development (TOD) in a variety of ways, including its housing policies. Transit investments and development around transit stations can help lower housing and transportation costs by expanding housing opportunities near transit and giving people more affordable options to reach employment centers and other daily essential activities. The amount of money a household spends on transportation is directly related to the location of the home. When transportation costs are added to the cost of renting or owning a home, many places that seem affordable are shown to be more expensive.
Household Travel Survey
ARC, in conjunction with the Georgia Department of Transportation (GDOT), periodically conducts a Household and Activity Travel Survey as part of its travel demand modeling activities. The intent of the survey is to gain a better understanding of travel behavior in the 20-county Atlanta region. The most recent survey was conducted in 2011.
The ARC Lifelong Communities Program works with local communities in the metro Atlanta area to achieve three primary goals: promote housing and transportation options; encourage healthy lifestyles; and expand information and access to services, thereby informing the region’s response to the growing aging population.
Demographics, Growth and Demand
Demographic and market forces that shape residential needs will change the type and location of housing demanded
The vast majority of housing available in the Atlanta region has been constructed over the past 40 years, with over 20 percent of the housing stock built between 2000 and 2007. The development community, working within local government regulatory frameworks, has done a remarkable job of delivering substantial quantities of housing to meet historic and recent demands, but it is uncertain if this supply is aligned with future consumer needs, both in terms of the type and location of housing. A majority of households in the Atlanta region already consists of two or fewer persons. The share of households with more than two people is expected to continue to decline over the next 30 years.
National research also suggests that the nation as a whole is undergoing a fundamental shift, not only in the size but also in the nature of the typical household. Three decades ago, approximately half of all households had children, compared to 21 percent expected nationally in the year 2030. Given our region’s large supply of single family housing, these shifts and trends suggest a mismatch between current housing stock and the needs of current and future households.
In addition to household size and form, household location will play a critical role in the region’s future. Much of the region’s growth has been fueled by the ability to supply housing that is affordable to the workforce, mostly in the region’s suburban counties. This pattern has been supported by relatively inexpensive travel costs, particularly in terms of the cost of gasoline. However, rising fuel costs are likely to place significant strains on household budgets, potentially making suburban and exurban communities less viable.
Learn more about the Atlanta region's housing characteristics and growth trends.
The Housing and Transportation Trade-Off
Families that move far from work to find affordable housing end up spending their savings on transportation
Atlanta boasts the second most affordable housing market in the U.S., but unfortunately when transportation is factored in, this is no longer true. 29 percent of typical households in metro Atlanta, making a household income of $58,390, spend 30 percent or more of their yearly income on housing, but once transportation cost is estimated, 80 percent, or 1,445,929 households, spend 45 percent or more of their yearly income on housing and transportation. 5,544 household pay more than 60 percent.
- A typical household in the Atlanta region with a median income of $58,390 spends an average of $14,305 in transportation costs annually. That’s $1,192 per month, ranking Atlanta 44th out of the nation’s 51 largest metros.
- 56 percent of moderate income households in the Atlanta region, with a median income of $46,712, spend over 30 percent of their yearly income on housing, and 98 percent spend more than 45 percent of their yearly income on housing and transportation costs.
- Working families in the Atlanta region, with incomes between $20,000 and $50,000, spend 61 percent of their yearly budget on housing and transportation costs.
Source: Center for Neighborhood Technology, Housing and Transportation Affordability Index
To learn more about the CNT Housing and Transportation Affordability Index, visit: http://www.cnt.org/tcd/ht.
National and Statewide Housing Policies and Data
For additional information on Housing, please contact Marisa Ghani at firstname.lastname@example.org.