How Atlanta’s growing economy burned low-income renters and homebuyers

Atlanta is a U.S. economic bright spot that’s experiencing rapid population growth.

Metro Atlanta is on a hot streak.

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

“It’s a huge increase in population,” said Dan Immergluck, a professor of urban studies at Georgia State University. “That has taxed the region environmentally.”

Financial and tech firms continue to flock toward metro Atlanta. This builds on the city’s strong logistics, entertainment and film, and health services industries.

Demand for quality housing in the region has become fierce, particularly in the city center.

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

In September 2022, the median home in the city of Atlanta was valued at about $400,000, according to Zillow’s Home Values Index. That price would be out of reach for the typical household in the city of Atlanta, which made about $64,179 annually in recent years. Rents also have ticked above the national median.

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