Chamblee takes steps to address high cost of housing
By David Pendered
Chamblee’s housing consultant provided a snapshot Tuesday of housing costs in the city that make obvious the reason Chamblee intends to devise a strategy to induce a supply of dwellings at a range of prices.
Whether residences are owned or rented, prices in Chamblee are up from 80 percent to 100 percent in the past decade for both houses and condos, Kyle Talente, managing principal with RKG, told the Chamblee City Council at its Tuesday night meeting.
Talente repeatedly noted that Chamblee is not unique. A shortage of dwellings affordable to those earning the salaries of schoolteachers exists across the region and nation. The Biden administration has sought to move housing prices to the forefront of the domestic agenda.
What may be unique in Chamblee is the speed in which the city has transformed from its roots as a place of dairies and railroads into a market of luxury condos and houses priced above $1 million.
One chart Talente displayed showed that even the spate of construction of high-end dwellings over the past decade hasn’t met demand. Chamblee has a gap of 1,104 units priced for top earners.
“We have become a very expensive community,” Talente said.
“Chamblee is more attractive to affluent buyers” than it was in the past, Talente said. “They see Chamblee as an affordable alternative. They can pay for that because they want access to [a residence inside the Perimeter] or near MARTA.”
Chamblee has become a sellers’ market when it comes to rental housing, Talente said. The impact is greatest on those of limited means who know they cannot risk losing their residence because so few alternatives exist nearby, he said.
Talente used himself as an example in his remarks to the council. If he felt it was time to move or were forced out by a landlord, he could afford another residence in the area. That’s not the case with those of lower incomes, he said. This point emerged in the housing study.
One respondent said residents of an apartment complex “are threatened with eviction if we complain about conditions.”
Another apartment resident said the “landlord says the other cities are raising their rents like Brookhaven so we have to raise ours. Like it’s an excuse or reason. But we don’t have the same things [amenities] that the Brookhaven apartments have.”
Another respondent said of managers of those apartments, “They want you to keep quiet… We are three people in a two-bedroom – we used to pay $1,400 now we pay $1,500.”
Talente didn’t offer any solutions to the council. The process isn’t far enough along for solutions to emerge. Recommendations are due to be presented in mid-summer. The presentation Tuesday was intended to update members on the fact-finding phase of a housing strategy project the city is conducting with support from the Atlanta Regional Commission’s Liveable Centers Initiative.
The housing survey showed respondents want the city government to intervene in the market in order to expand the range of housing price points.
One chart Talente displayed observed 65 percent of respondents “believe the city should play an active role in creating housing options for people that would like to live in Chamblee but cannot afford to. There is a common perspective that the market is not able/interested in providing price diversity.”