By Sean Keenan
Imagine more tiny homes in backyards or apartments over the garages in Atlanta. A new program by investment company GROUNDFLOOR could spur the development and preservation of more accessory dwelling units (ADUs) — a move that could provide more affordable housing in the city and beyond.
Last week, GROUNDFLOOR announced a pilot program that will help developers secure funding for the construction or restoration of ADUs — at least where Atlanta’s outmoded zoning laws will allow.
“Approved through amended zoning ordinances, ADUs are often used to provide extra income for the homeowner, new spaces for multigenerational living, and more affordable rents that can mitigate gentrification, all while using existing space in growing communities,” a company press release says.
Among the countless roadblocks Atlanta faces in its (sometimes seemingly futile) pursuit of housing affordability, residential supply is among the most daunting. If more property owners were inclined to add units in or near existing homes, the logic goes that the boosted density would contribute to local affordability, especially as the city’s population swells.
Housing experts have told SaportaReport that this type of residential development is crucial to providing affordable places to live in communities that might otherwise be financially out of reach.
Atlanta’s planning department has said that the city’s appetite for ADUs is growing, but securing financing for such projects has long been a hurdle — a challenge which GROUNDFLOOR’s new program endeavors to mitigate by providing loans from $75,000 up to $1 million.
Additionally, a recently launched city initiative that aims to reimagine municipal zoning rules could open up 60 percent of the city’s land for true density, meaning, in theory, more ADUs and other high-density projects.
GROUNDFLOOR has already funded three intown developments that incorporate ADUs, in Adair Park, Venetian Hills and Sylvan Hills. Additionally, “we are processing other applications and inquiries for ADU financing including one for a pocket neighborhood of duplexes, ADUs, and guesthouses,” a company spokesperson told SaportaReport. “All projects are located in Southwest Atlanta.”
The company has funded nearly $700,000 worth of ADU projects in Atlanta so far, “and at least $2 million in additional projects are being processed or discussed,” the spokesperson said.
Accessory dwellings create a permanent underclass among those who are renting from the owner of the “mansion.” They also mean single-family lots that are 80% or more impermeable, meaning the city will have to start creating storm water districts and taxing homeowners accordingly.
More concrete, no trees, and no real addressing the real issues of why affordable housing stock has evaporated, such as long-term rental flipping to short-term rental (VRBO, AirBnB) and the city’s lack of spine force affordable units in new construction (Beltline Inc).
I’m getting tired of the Saporta Report giving air time to shills for developers and no space to discussion as to what are the serious pitfalls with these schemes.