Apr 13, 2022 - Real Estate

Metro Atlantans are OK with tiny houses and duplexes in neighborhoods

Illustration of two houses in a neighborhood connected by a dotted heart.
Illustration: Maura Losch/Axios

A significant number of metro Atlantans say they’d welcome tiny homes in backyards, and duplexes and triplexes in their residential neighborhoods to help combat the housing affordability crunch.

Why it matters: One solution to metro Atlanta’s housing crisis is simply to build more housing. Constructing the so-called “missing middle” housing options would add much-needed units that could blend in with a single-family residential community’s look and feel.

Zoom in: In Atlanta, nearly 70% of respondents supported building accessory dwelling units — think small houses in backyards, carriage house apartments or “in-law suites" — according to a new Zillow study.

  • Nearly half supported building in-fill housing like duplexes and triplexes, and when presented with all three options, 72% of respondents expressed support.

More than half thought duplexes and triplexes would have a positive impact on the sense of community and belonging, more affordable housing options, access to public transit and amenities like parks, restaurants and community centers.

Yes, but: Last year, Atlanta’s attempt to make it easier for homeowners to build accessory dwelling units, set parking minimums and encourage “gentle density” near transit stations was paused after neighborhood pushback.

  • Local governments across the region have placed restrictions on multi-family housing, including most recently Roswell, which OK'd a 90-day moratorium on new stand-alone apartment buildings.

“People do understand an idea intellectually until it comes close to being a reality, and they have to consider, Oh, right over there?” says Odetta MacLeish-White of the Center for Community Progress, a housing advocacy group.

Better education could help communities understand the positive value affordable housing can bring, she tells Axios. Interesting approaches include Focused Community Strategies' and eightvillage’s Backyard ATL project in South Atlanta.

  • The program partners with homeowners to build ADUs in their backyards and offer them as rental properties. The homeowner eventually owns the new units outright.
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