A recently released research paper shows rents in four Westside neighborhoods have risen up to 14 percent in the last seven months. The area has seen extensive development and redevelopment initiatives since the announcement of the new Atlanta Falcons stadium in 2012 and is expected to increase even more.
Dan Immergluck, professor of City and Regional Planning at Georgia Tech, studied the neighborhoods of Bankhead, English Avenue, Vine City and Washington Park. He also looked at rent in downtown and Home Park for comparison.
In his paper, Immergluck calls on developers and policy makers to anticipate the rising prices and address the issue now rather than waiting until it accelerates.
“Because home values and residential rents capitalize the value of neighborhood improvements, and because speculators can drive up prices and rents, community development planners and policy makers must anticipate these phenomena,” Immergluck wrote. “…Increased housing costs also shape the income mix of a neighborhood. If rents increase a lot, it will limit who can move into the area and benefit from the improved quality of life.”
Immergluck used Zillow.com data to evaluate the rents for the neighborhoods. He found that from 2012 to 2016, Home Park saw by far the largest increase in rent at 38 percent.
However, when Immergluck looked at data from December 2015 to July 2016, he found the four Westside neighborhoods saw the largest jump in rent. The increases were from nine to 14 percent, with Bankhead and English Avenue seeing the largest increases.
The Atlanta BeltLine, Inc. and Invest Atlanta have discussed the need for affordable housing at recent board meetings. ABI put more than $2 million in their fiscal year 2017 budget for affordable housing and plan to take out a $50 million bond that will allocate $7.5 million towards affordable housing over the next few years.
The new formed Atlanta City Design Project is also looking at ways to include affordable housing into their long-term plans for the city, according to city spokesperson Jewanna Gaither.
In July, the city passed an ordinance that requires developers who build multi-family homes in the city and receive public funds to allocate up to 15 percent of their units for affordable housing, Gaither wrote in an email.
A recently established Westside Future Fund hopes to drive philanthropic and corporate support to improve health, education and welfare of Westside residents, as well as address equity and social justice issues associated with new residential and commercial development.
Over the last few years, at least $60 million has been committed to help improve neighborhoods in the Westside.
The Arthur M. Blank Family Foundation committed $15 million in private funds to invest in projects in the English Avenue, Vine City, Castleberry Hill and other contiguous neighborhoods. Invest Atlanta, the city’s economic development agency, promised $15 million for economic development projects in the English Avenue, Vine City and Castleberry Hill communities.
In September 2015, HUD awarded the City of Atlanta a $30 million grant that will be used to revitalize portions of west Atlanta, including Vine City, Ashview Heights and the Atlanta University Center neighborhood.
“We will continue to work to develop additional partnerships, initiatives and opportunities to ensure affordable housing in Atlanta,” Gaither wrote.
In his paper, Immergluck acknowledges a need for redevelopment in Westside neighborhoods. However, he cautions rapid investment “may actually harm the success of these efforts by making it harder for existing residents to remain in their communities…”