Supply and demand: High rent in Atlanta threatens campus accessibility for students

Atlanta continues to grow as a city, and as a result rent prices continue to spike as well. Soraya Farivar, a senior biology major at Georgia State, has progressively moved farther from campus to find affordable housing.

“It was worth it,” she said. “It was hard to beat the price I was paying.”

Since living in Georgia State’s University Lofts, becoming a resident assistant in the University Commons and moving off campus to find cheaper living, Farivar has had to deal first hand with the effects of housing prices.

“I was paying under $400 in rent a month,” she said when she first moved off campus. “Now it is harder.”

Starting August of this year, Rent Jungle, a website that computes rent trends, found the average apartment rent prices over the past six months in Atlanta has increased by 29.4 percent, making an average of a $319 increase in apartment rent rates.

 

Moving away for affordable housing

Georgia State is also surrounded by six of the 10 most expensive neighborhoods (Poncey Highland, Inman Park, Midtown, Virginia Highland, Old Fourth Ward, and Cabbagetown) in Atlanta, according to Rent Jungle.

Sarah Lemaux, Georgia State senior neuroscience major, resides in Grant Park and said better housing accommodations usually come at steeper prices.

“I think I pay more now to have a better living situation,” she said.

George Burgan, director of communication and technology at the Atlanta Neighborhood Development Partnership, a nonprofit promoting, creating and preserving affordable housing in Atlanta, said the increase in rent prices is due to simple economics.

“It all boils down to supply and demand,” he said.

The demand has been created by an increase in millennials, students and professionals that have moved to the inner city and empty nesters in intown neighborhoods, Burgan said.

“When all of these groups are combined, the result is a dramatic increase in demand for rental properties,” he said.

However, currently the supply has not caught up to the demand, Burgan explains.

“Access to mortgage credit has diminished in the economic downturn and hasn’t fully returned, new home construction hasn’t fully rebound yet, and there is limited availability of quality rehabbed homes for purchase,” he said.

Farivar currently lives in East Atlanta and has moved twice within the neighborhood, farther east each time, to evade swelling rent prices.

According to the Atlanta Business Chronicle, earlier in 2015 East Atlanta was named third hottest neighborhood in the country due to the exploding interest from investors because of the trendy restaurants, bars and boutiques that can be found around East Atlanta Village, a likely cause for rent spikes within the neighborhood.

“It’s the old adage, ‘Drive until you can buy,’” Burgan said about moving further from downtown in order to find affordable housing. “That is certainly the trend that has been created in the home buying market.”

While cheaper neighborhoods close to Georgia State are by Turner Field and the West Side, Farivar said she wouldn’t feel safe given the reputation of those districts.

“I’m not fond of the area,” she said. “I know there are some good deals in Peoplestown, but I don’t necessarily feel that comfortable there.”

 

Micro apartments on the way

However, there is a new option that may be available to students in the future are “micro” apartments.

Atlanta’s 10th largest apartment developer, Gables Residential, is adding units to its Emory Point community that will be under 400 square feet, according to the Atlanta Business Chronicle.

It isn’t certain how many micro units will be coming to Atlanta since some projects remain in the planning stages, according to the Atlanta Business Chronicle.

“If I had to sacrifice my space for a cheaper price, I would do that,” Farivar said.

However, the 390 square foot units are leasing at $1,110 to $1,150 per month, as stated in the Atlanta Business Chronicle.

“Micro in size does not seem micro in price,” Burgan said. “It is almost predatory in terms of maximizing product.”

Burgan advised students to know the city and neighborhoods closest to school, and neighborhoods easily accessible to bus or rail when finding a place to live off-campus.

“I know a little more about Atlanta now, so I know where I want to live and what’s a good price,” Lemaux said. “And like not getting ripped off.”

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