Smart Growth: Why You May Want Apartments in Your Neighborhood

 In Your Community

During a recent visit, my friend Deb felt very disgruntled with the mayor of her city. “He said my town’s new proposed development is ‘Smart Growth’, but it is really just a way to add more apartments in our community.”  No one likes to be deceived, but was Deb misled by her mayor?

Deb, like so many people, is uncomfortable with apartments being located too close to her neighborhood filled with traditional, single-family homes. She fears declining property values, increased traffic, and the lack of privacy.

In reality, communities that offer more housing options are most likely to thrive in today’s economy and to be desirable to current and potential residents (AARP). It can be especially beneficial to older persons who want to remain in their community. Both older persons and younger persons are seeking housing that is affordable and smaller in size.

Why is “Smart Growth” Smart?

Smart Growth America defines smart growth as “an approach to development that encourages a mix of building types and uses, diverse housing and transportation options, development within existing neighborhoods, and community engagement”. Adding more apartments to a community that lacks an adequate supply qualifies as “Smart Growth”.

Smart Growth can provide lifelong living in communities. A person’s housing needs change over the course of a lifetime. A home ideal for raising kids may be ill-suited and cost-prohibitive for living independently as we age or for persons just getting started on their own.

Housing that is smaller and closer to services, such as grocery stores and medical facilities, may be especially important for older persons who no longer drive and want to remain independent. Most older people want to stay in or near the neighborhoods that they have always lived to maintain established connections with friends and services.

The idea of Smart Growth might also be called Livable Communities, Lifelong Communities, New Urbanism, or Age-Friendly Cities. All these movements promote the common principles found in the smart growth definition. One of these principles involves including diverse housing options that support persons of all ages, abilities, and incomes in their quest for a high quality of life.

There are benefits to being a “YIMBY” (yes, in my backyard) rather than a “NIMBY” (not in my backyard); one day, you may want to downsize to an apartment in your community or have an older or younger relative locate nearby.

Atlanta Region’s Shortage of Suitable Housing For Older Persons

Understanding the benefits of increased housing options at a variety size and price points makes it hard not to support more apartments in neighborhoods.

The Atlanta area, like most of the nation, has a shortage in both supply and variety of housing options. Many of our communities have an abundance of single family homes on larger lots and expensive retirement communities that only the affluent can afford.

Housing is considered affordable if a person pays no more than 30 percent of their income on rent or mortgage. More than one in four (26.2%) of metro Atlanta homeowners age 65 and older pay more than this standard on housing costs. The situation is even worse for older renters in the region, with 57% spending more than the affordable amount.

Apartments are only one option for downsizing but, for many people, they are a convenient and cost-effective one. Townhouses, cottages, and secondary units on properties can also offer smaller home options.

The Atlanta Regional Commission’s Housing Briefs can help you learn more about Metro Atlanta’s Senior Housing Shortage and recommended solutions to increase housing options. These Briefs can be used to inform both yourself and decision makers in your community.


If you’re looking for housing to better suit your changing needs, empowerline is here to help at (404) 463-3333.

Leave a Comment

Related Posts

Preventing Homelessness in Atlanta: Gateway Center

Volunteers pass out meals inside to provide a sense of dignity to those who might otherwise be eating on the streets. Gateway Center’s lobby was abuzz with activity one rainy February morning in Atlanta. A group of regular volunteers were serving hot food to residents and clients who were accessing walk-in services. One man was [...]

Antiquing in Atlanta

Twenty-six years ago, Karen Gross and Marg Lambert cut the ribbon to an Atlanta location of the maker-to-market store known as Ten Thousand Villages. Together, they sometimes traveled to retreats related to this business. On the way, they would stop at antique shops. Marg collected vintage kitchen utensils from the 1930’s through the 1950’s, and […]

Local Senior Club Blends Latino and American Holiday Traditions

Many years ago, in his native Buenos Aires, Armando Mónaco was an actor and newscaster. On a recent Friday, the 67-year-old retiree portrayed the lead character in a Spanish-language play he wrote parodying a live radio talk show. His fellow actors, including one dressed as Cleopatra, and audience members were all older adults who meet […]

Tips for Holiday Visits to Nursing Homes

During the holiday season, long-term care facilities receive a high volume of visits from families, friends, local organizations, and faith-based groups. These visits are extremely important to persons in nursing homes, personal care homes, and assisted living communities. When I visit long-term care facilities as an ombudsman representative, many families bring young children to visit [...]

Volunteering: Spread the Love

Wilma Jenkins has always known that she wanted to be a teacher. Even after turning 80 years old, she is doing what she loves: education. Ms. Jenkins works with the Atlanta Regional Commission through a program called RSVP (the Retired and Senior Volunteer Program).  She goes into the community to give free presentations on healthy [...]

Help three ways

Your needs come first. How can we help you? Call now, open a chat window, or leave a message for us to contact you later.

Start typing and press Enter to search