Metro Atlanta Housing Strategy

The Challenge

Metro Atlanta has long been an affordable place to live, an advantage that helped fuel the region’s growth. But quality, affordable housing is becoming more difficult to find. This threatens to reduce our quality of life and economic vitality. About one-third of homeowners and half of renters are now considered “cost burdened” – that is, they spend at least 30% of income on housing or 50% on housing and transportation.

What's Driving the Change?

A number of factors are causing metro Atlanta’s housing affordability challenge.

Housing costs are rising more rapidly than income

  • Home prices have jumped over 6% in the past year.
  • From 2011-2016, average rent increased 48%, while wages only up 10%

Housing construction is down as population continues to soar

  • Residential building permits are at about 1/3 pre-recession levels
  • Developers focusing on higher-cost rental units because building costs are so high

Loss of affordable units

  • A combination of high land prices and restrictive zoning, land use, and development policies limits the ability to create new affordable units.
  • High construction costs make it difficult to rehab existing housing stock

Transportation costs complicate affordability picture

  • Housing costs near major employment centers have soared, forcing many employees to undertake long, expensive commutes that further congest our roadways.
  • Metro Atlanta residents on average spend 63% of income on housing and transportation, 5thhighest in U.S.

The Impact

Metro Atlanta’s housing affordability challenge affects how we live

People working


Low cost of living helped fuel the region’s economic boom, but eroding housing affordability threatens to erode this competitive edge.

Retired couple sitting on a bench in a courtyard

Older Adults

More than half of renters age 65 or older spend 30% or more on housing costs – a concern as this population may double by 2040.

Person in traffic


Many people are priced out of housing near major job centers. This means more cars on the road, more miles traveled, and less time spent with family and friends.

children doing schoolwork at their desks


Families that move to chase cheaper rents cause greater instability in both student populations and neighborhoods.

Regional Housing Strategy

The Atlanta Regional Commission has long-recognized the critical need to address our region’s housing challenges.  In the past few years, board members, local communities, and other regional partners have increasingly looked to ARC for data, planning, and technical assistance that help tackle the region’s housing challenges.

In response, the Atlanta Regional Commission is partnering with organizations across the region to develop a Regional Housing Strategy to help local governments better understand their housing challenges and begin to address them through actionable and innovative strategies

An interactive digital tool is being developed that allows the Atlanta region to be broken into “housing subareas” – small areas that have similar housing and demographic characteristics. The goal is to develop strategies to address housing affordability in each submarket type by:

  • Increasing housing supply at all price points
  • Developing leadership to address the region’s housing challenges
  • Preserving supply of affordable housing
  • Reducing costs of housing and transportation
  • Expanding capital resources
  • Promoting housing stability

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Housing Subarea Analysis

(Note: These maps are in draft status and are subject to change)

Subarea 1

Subarea 1

High-priced core neighborhoods consisting of mostly older single family and multifamily housing units for both renters and owners.

  • Highest proportion of multifamily units, adding an additional 11,000 since 2010
  • Quickest increase in ownership rates among non-rural areas, albeit with only about 200 owner-occupied single family units having been added since 2010.

Median Year Built: 1966

Median Building Area: 1,516 sq. ft.

Average  Home Sale Price (2018): $252.83 per sq. ft. $505,660 for a 2,000 sq. ft. home. +50% since 2013

Data Source: Zillow (ZTRAX), 2018

Metro Atlanta Map - Subarea 1
Subarea 2
Subarea 3
Subarea 4
Subarea 5
Subarea 6
Subarea 7
Subarea 8
Subarea 9
Subarea 10

NOTICE: Gov. Brian Kemp has extended a public health emergency declaration and a statewide shelter-in-place order for older adults and medically fragile residents through June 12.

The Atlanta Regional Commission office at 229 Peachtree Street, NE Atlanta, is closed to the public until further notice. All employees are working remotely and conducting business operations. ARC employees can be contacted directly during normal business hours. However, if you need immediate assistance call 404-463-3100.

If you are seeking resources for older persons and individuals with disabilities, contact us at404-463-3333 or visit

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