Donnell Suggs / Atlanta Voice
About this series
This article, inspired by Deloitte research, is part of a series in which five Black-owned publications around the United States explore the key factors that contribute to racial and generational gaps in acquiring wealth.
With more historically Black colleges and universities than any other city, and as the birthplace of Martin Luther King Jr. and the civil rights movement, it's no wonder Atlanta's long been called the "Black Mecca" of the South. But in America's thirty-eighth-largest city, the dream of home ownership is increasingly out of reach.
More than 65% of Americans are homeowners, according to U.S. Census Bureau data. However, less than half (43%) of Black people in the United States own a home, while nearly 75% of white people own a home. An analysis by Deloitte revealed that median home prices in the United States jumped 45% between February 2020 and April 2022. That increase, combined with rising interest rates, inflation, and the racial wealth gap — means the opportunity of home ownership is a dream deferred for Black America.
In Atlanta, the median sale price of a home is $390,000. For people priced out of home ownership, in many cases, even finding an affordable place to rent in A-Town is more difficult than ever.
A Missed Opportunity
On a sunny morning in October, with music playing, people mingling about, and a food truck offering free tacos, a ribbon-cutting took place in front of what was once one of the most dilapidated residential properties on Atlanta's Westside.
The location of 12Hundred Studios, a new apartment complex at the corner of Mobile and Troy Streets in the Hunter Hills neighborhood, had been abandoned and undeveloped for decades.
Indeed, the front yard of 1200 Mobile Street was once the very last place you would see men in suits and women in dresses and heels having a good time. Where there was once no housing to speak of is now being hailed as “affordable” housing.
The new 40-unit, garden-style apartment complex is a combined effort from Tenth Street Ventures, an Atlanta-based real estate company; Alexander Goshen, a Florida-based real estate development company; and ARRC Capital Partners, a multifamily property management and renovation company based in Atlanta.
The Atlanta Affordable Housing Fund, a social impact fund launched in January 2020, provided the senior loan for the project, with equity provided by American South Real Estate Fund.
A walk-through of one of the units revealed that they are clean, freshly painted, and move-in ready. Each fully furnished apartment rents for 60% of the Area Median Income (a measure of a resident’s average income in a specific area), according to Tenth Street Ventures.
Colorful murals from local artists Kendall Deon and Eric Nine brighten the courtyard. “We wanted to have something that the community could be a part of,” said Deon, who wore a paint-splattered T-shirt that read ‘Artist at Work.’ Deon said he wanted to create “Something they could take pride in.”
A combined effort to provide housing that even includes local artists — what could be wrong? The price.
Median rent from 2017-2021 in Atlanta was $1,342, according to U.S. Census Bureau data. However, there’s been an uptick in rental costs, with the average rent reaching $1,880 for an apartment in Atlanta in 2022.
On August 16, 2022, Mayor Andre Dickens announced a plan for creating or preserving 20,000 affordable housing units in Atlanta over the next five years.
20,000 is a stake in the sand. The demand for affordable housing far outstrips that,” said Atlanta Housing Board Chair Larry Stewart during Grove Park Speaks, a recent community conversation run by the Grove Park Foundation.
In September, Atlanta magazine called Grove Park, which is one of Atlanta's historically Black neighborhoods, "ground zero" for gentrification. But activists involved in the Grove Park Foundation are trying to help locals get a piece of the homeownership pie before it's too late.