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How Atlanta’s Growing Economy Burned Low-Income Renters and Home Buyers

Metro Atlanta is on a roll.

More than 6 million people now live in the area, according to recent Census Bureau estimates. Experts say this is about a 50% increase from 20 years ago.

“It’s a huge increase in population,” said Dan Immergluck, professor of urban studies at Georgia State University. “It put an environmental tax on the region.”

Financial and technology companies continue to flock to metro Atlanta. It builds on the city’s strong logistics, entertainment and film and healthcare services industries.

The demand for quality housing in the area has become fierce, especially in the city centre.

“Atlanta is becoming a bigger city,” said Nathaniel Smith, founder and chief equity officer of the Partnership for Southern Equity. “Now whether we’ll be able to balance that and make sure that, you know, black people don’t get kicked out … I’m not sure.”

As of September 2022, the average home in the city of Atlanta was valued at around $400,000, according to Zillow’s Home Value Index. The price would be out of reach for the typical inner-city household in Atlanta, which has earned about $64,179 a year in recent years. Rents also exceeded the national median.

Some Atlanta residents believe that ambitious urban redevelopment projects, such as the BeltLine, have contributed to rapidly rising prices in the area.

The BeltLine is a loop of 22 miles of walking and biking trails built largely on abandoned railroad tracks and developed through a public-private partnership.

It aimed to connect different parts of the city and create walkable communities along the way where residents could access a variety of services without needing a car.

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“We have invested approximately $700 million in BeltLine to date,” Atlanta BeltLine Inc. CEO Clyde Higgs said. “What we’ve seen is about $8 billion in private investment following the BeltLine. It’s caused a number of good things and also a number of pressures in the city of Atlanta.”

As the region develops, a host of community organizers are launching efforts to preserve housing affordability.

“It would have been great if we had the opportunity to acquire more land earlier in the life of the BeltLine,” said Amanda Rhein, executive director of the Atlanta Land Trust, “because property values ​​continue to increase near the project. ”

Watch the video to see how Atlanta plans to preserve housing affordability amid rapid growth.

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