ACTION ITEM

Invest in Greater Access to a Variety of Safe, Quality Housing Including Options for Aging in Place

Providing increased access to quality and affordable housing options is critical if the region is to maintain a strong economy and high quality of life. A number of programs and initiatives are taking place across metro Atlanta to address the housing issue from different perspectives.

PLAN HIGHLIGHT

IMPROVING QUALITY OF LIFE FOR OLDER PERSONS AND PEOPLE WITH DISABILITIES

Meals on Wheels

The Atlanta Area Agency on Aging provides services that help people age in place, such as Meals on Wheels

The Atlanta region is experiencing a major demographic shift as baby boomers age and lifespans increase. By 2040, one in four residents will be age 60 or older, compared to one in seven in 2010.

The vast majority of older adults want to remain in their homes and in their communities as they age. But too often, people move to more institutional settings in order to get the services and support they need – particularly when driving ability is diminished.

ARC provides comprehensive services to older adults in the Atlanta region via its role as the federally designated Atlanta Area Agency on Aging. Services that help people remain in their communities include home-delivered meals, transportation to medical appointments and shopping, in-home support services. ARC also operates the Empowerline information and referral service.

There’s a financial benefit to aging in place, too. It is typically more cost-effective for older adults to remain in their homes than move to a long-term care facility.

  • Empowerline information and referral service
  • Senior center operations and group meals
  • Home-delivered meals
  • In-home support services
  • Transportation
  • Case management
  • Caregiver support
  • Health and wellness programs
  • Medicaid waivers
  • Volunteer opportunities
  • Education and outreach

PLAN IN ACTION: Lifelong Communities

better sidewalks

Better sidewalks provide exercise, access to services and opportunities to socialize

ARC’s Lifelong Communities initiative helps guide efforts at the local level to create communities that meet the needs of residents of all ages and abilities. A Lifelong Community is a place that offers a variety of housing types and ways to get around that appeal to individuals both young and old, such as safe sidewalks, compact, low-maintenance housing options, and convenient access to shopping and transit.

ARC works with local government planners, developers and neighborhood leaders to update policies, such as housing codes and other regulations, to remove barriers might hinder the ability of individuals to be able to age in place. ARC also demonstrates and brings best practices to the local level, such as removing zoning that prohibits the placement of accessory dwellings in residential areas.

Staff continues to research and quantify the unique needs of rapidly aging communities and educate the marketplace about the demand for various housing options, along with needed services, within established communities.

  • Connectivity
  • Pedestrian access and transit
  • Neighborhood retail and services
  • Social interaction
  • Diversity of dwelling types
  • Healthy living
  • Consideration for existing residents

PLAN HIGHLIGHT

REGIONAL HOUSING STRATEGY: ADDRESSING METRO ATLANTA’S AFFORDABLE HOUSING CHALLENGE

Affordability helped fuel metro Atlanta’s growth. But housing costs in the region have been rising sharply, threatening to erode this competitive advantage and negatively impact quality of life.

About 31% of households in metro Atlanta are considered “cost burdened” – that is, they spend at least 30% of their income on housing or at least 50% on housing and transportation. A number of factors are driving this trend, such as rising housing costs, stagnating wages, a decline in new housing construction, and loss of affordable units.

ARC is partnering with organizations across sectors to develop a Regional Housing Strategy to help local governments better understand their housing challenges and begin to address them using actionable and innovative strategies.

PLAN HIGHLIGHT

FOSTERING EQUITABLE, MIXED-USE DEVELOPMENTS AROUND TRANSIT STATIONS

Conceptual rendering of TOD at Oakland City MARTA station in southwest Atlanta

Conceptual rendering of TOD at Oakland City MARTA station in southwest Atlanta

The Atlanta region is embracing the idea of transit-oriented developments (TOD), which typically include a pedestrian-friendly mix of housing, office and retail or other amenities build around transit stops, such as a MARTA rail station. Successful TODs can increase transit ridership, reduce household driving, and improve access to jobs for low-income residents and working families.

TOD projects also benefit from ARC’s Livable Centers Initiative, a program that provides grants for planning and transportation projects that promote the creation of more walkable communities with better access to jobs, services and transit. Of MARTA’s 38 rail stations, 35 are in LCI study areas.

An effort is underway to ensure that TOD projects are developed in an equitable fashion that address the needs of the entire community. The goal is to foster mixed-income communities that offer affordable housing options and access to jobs and other amenities, such as fresh, healthy food, for residents of all income levels.

To promote equitable TOD in the Atlanta region, a group of government agencies, businesses and nonprofit groups, including MARTA, ARC and Enterprise Community Partners, came together to create the TransFormation Alliance, with funding provided by the Ford Foundation. Equitable TOD seeks to achieve:

  • Increases in property values without displacing the residents who would most benefit from the increase
  • Greater economic opportunity by creating easier access for low and moderate income households

MARTA TOD Projects Include:

A 7.7-acre surface parking lot on the south side of the station is being redeveloped to include 378 market rate apartments, 92 affordable senior housing units, 41,500 square feet of retail, and 34 condos.

Surface parking at the Edgewood-Candler Park station is being been redeveloped into a mixed-use project featuring apartments, green space, street-level retail and cultural space.

A 2-acre closed parking lot across the street from the station has been redeveloped with a mix of office, retail and green space.

Plans call for 400 apartments, 80 affordable housing units, and 10,000 square feet of retail on a 4-acre property near the King Memorial station.

PLAN HIGHLIGHT

LIVABLE CENTERS INITIATIVE HELPS COMMUNITIES RE-ENVISION DEVELOPED AREAS AND IMPROVE WALKING AND BIKING OPTIONS

Roundabout at Emory Village

An LCI study helped fund a roundabout and new streetscapes in Emory Village. Today, it’s a less congested, safer area, bustling with shops and restaurants

From major employment centers like Buckhead and Downtown Atlanta, to smaller downtowns like McDonough and Suwanee, ARC’s Livable Centers Initiative (LCI) program helps communities re-invest in areas that already have the infrastructure to support jobs and development.

Through a competitive grant process, LCI helps local governments, community improvement districts (CIDs) and local residents re-envision their communities in a way that increases walking and biking options, encourages healthy lifestyles, and provides improved access to transit and jobs. The goal: to reduce car trips and improve air quality in the region.

The ARC board has allocated more than $300 million for transportation projects resulting from completed LCI studies, including sidewalks, bike lanes and roadway and intersection improvements.

Since 2000, the LCI program has invested in 119 communities throughout the Atlanta region, providing funding for planning studies and transportation projects, such as sidewalks and intersection improvements.

PLAN IN ACTION

Downtown Douglasville

Downtown Douglasville

The city of Douglasville received its first LCI grant in 2001. Since then, the city has steadily implemented its plan with an eye toward creating a more walkable downtown – and providing healthier lifestyle options for Douglasville residents.

The city’s has built sidewalks and made other pedestrian-related improvements. But the city also realized that residents needed interesting places to walk to if the Douglasville was to build a pedestrian culture. With business and redevelopment partners, the city built a conference center, reconfigured Highway 92, and redeveloped several downtown properties, most recently turning an historic car dealership into a co-working space called the Station Loft Works.

Downtown Woodstock

Downtown Woodstock

One of LCI’s greatest success stories is downtown Woodstock, a once sleepy town on the region’s northern edge. Today, it boasts a growing and lively mix of shops, offices and housing. For residents, a night on the town now means staying close to home and enjoying all the new options.

PLAN HIGHLIGHT

COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT ASSISTANCE PROGRAM PROVIDES PLANNING SUPPORT TO LOCAL GOVERNMENTS

ARC’s Community Development Assistance program provides critical planning and technical support to help local communities improve quality of life for residents. Applicants are selected each year in a competitive solicitation process.

Applicants are asked to utilize one or more of the following four ‘lenses’ to explain their request for assistance:

  • Equity – promoting diversity or inclusion in the community
  • Prosperity –fostering economic and cultural vitality
  • Resiliency –contributing to protection of local natural resources
  • Mobility – improving circulation and connectivity

Projects include:

  • Developing and implementing zoning overlay districts
  • Developing design standards
  • Rewriting of zoning codes and ordinances
  • Conducting audits to assist with quality growth
  • Taking inventories of housing or and/or commercial property
  • Researching best practices

EXAMPLE: Helping Lithonia Inventory its Housing Stock

Lithonia housing

Lithonia housing

ARC helped Lithonia conduct an inventory of all residential properties in the city. To accomplish this, ARC developed a web-based tool and trained volunteers to gather the information. Now, Lithonia has a full electronic database and interactive map of its existing housing conditions. The city also has a report that outlines, next steps and possible tools the city might use to enhance its housing options.

The inventory was the first step in Lithonia’s participation in the Georgia Initiative for Community Housing program, which also provided support for the inventory.

 It is the policy of ARC to:

  • Support local jurisdictions through resources and technical assistance
  • Encourage local communities to increase housing options near large
    employment centers
  • Support the preservation of existing, and the construction of new, mixed-income housing near transit and employment centers
  • Encourage local communities to diversify housing options within existing
    neighborhoods