Archive for March, 2010

Key demographic trends shaping the housing market

March 31, 2010

Demographic shifts and changing values in both urban and suburban areas are driving an increased demand for pedestrian-friendly, mixed-use communities that offer a variety of housing choices.

In his recent report: Housing in America: The Next Decade, John McIlwain of the Urban Land Institute states that “The age of suburbanization and growing homeownership is over…The coming decades will be the time of the great reurbanization as 24/7 central cities grow and suburbs around the country are redeveloped with new or revived walkable suburban town centers.”

According to McIlwain, this transition will be fueled by the growth of two-person households, an end to baby boomers’ suburban infatuation and public policies designed to stimulate compact development. In his report, McIlwain points to four key demographic trends:

  1. Older Baby Boomers are becoming seniors. In the coming decade, fewer of the older Boomers will be moving. Those who have not sold their suburban homes will find themselves trapped by falling prices and a weak seller’s market. Those that can move are no longer flocking to the Sun Belt, instead moving closer to their children and grandchildren.
  2. Younger Baby Boomers are facing very different challenges. They have decades before they consider retiring and their children are likely to still be at home. Some may find their suburban homes now “underwater” and those not underwater will be hard to sell.
  3. Generation X and Y will be renting far longer than past generations. This generation’s attitudes toward homeownership have been changed by the housing crisis and the recession. They see people trapped by homes that can’t be sold and millions of foreclosures, which have tempered their interest in buying their own homes. This generation has to pay off existing school loans and has lost the confidence of prior generations that homeownership is a way to develop wealth. They say they want to live in urban areas, not in the suburbs where they grew up, and they are willing to live in a smaller space in order to afford this lifestyle.
  4. Immigrants and their children will want to move to the suburbs, but may find them too expensive despite the current drop in housing prices.


McIlwains report is focused at the national level, as these trends are not specific to any one city or region. The report goes on to talk about what these trends mean for the housing market, and how these trends will shape the built environment in years to come.  These nationally-recognized trends are apparent and prevalent in the Atlanta region.


ARC Send Comments on New HUD Sustainable Communities Grant Program

March 16, 2010

In the 2010 budget, Congress provided a total of $150 million to HUD for a Sustainable Communities Initiative to improve regional planning efforts that integrate housing and transportation decisions and increase the capacity to improve land use and zoning.   Of that total, approximately $100 million will be available for regional integrated planning initiatives through HUD’s Sustainable Communities Planning Grant Program.

 During February HUD sought input from the public, including state and local governments, regional bodies, community development entities, and a broad range of other stakeholders on how the program should be structured in order to have the most meaningful impact on sustainable regional planning.

A full overview of the program and comments are available at HUDs website, here :

 ARC provided many comments to HUD regarding the new program.


Atlanta District Council of the Urban Land Institute (ULI) provides Technical Assistance Panel (TAP) to ARC’s Plan 2040

March 16, 2010

The ULI TAP program is intended to bring professionals from the real estate, planning and development fields together to collaborate on complex land use and redevelopment projects.  TAPs are designed specifically to be run and implemented by District Councils, and are intentionally flexible to provide sponsoring organizations a customized approach to specific land use and real estate issues.  Once a project has been designated as a TAP project, the District Council TAP Committee assembles a group of ULI members with expertise in the topics under consideration. 

On July 28, 2009, ULI Atlanta assisted the Atlanta Regional Commission (ARC) in reevaluating its materials and planning policies for its Plan 2040 process through a TAP.   A total of thirty (30) panelists participated in the Plan 2040 TAP exercise.  The 30 panelists were divided into three discussion groups to evaluate ideal densities and development types for a variety of land uses. In addition, each group strived to identify opportunities for new development and redevelopment. Finally, the groups evaluated whether or not Atlanta’s current growth model is successful.


The Suburbanization of Poverty: Trends in Metropolitan America, 2000 to 2008

March 16, 2010

The 1990s were a time of historic economic growth for the United States, and a period when the country made remarkable strides in poverty reduction, as evidenced by near record lows in the poverty rate and considerable declines in the number of high-poverty neighborhoods throughout the country at the time of Census 2000. But 2000 marked a turning point for the economy as a whole and for American poverty. The release of the 2005 American Community Survey provided the first look at changes in city and suburban poverty in the wake of the mild recession of the early 2000s and the jobless recovery that followed. Not only did poverty significantly increase in both large cities and suburbs over this time period, but for the first time more poor lived in the suburbs of the country’s largest metro areas than cities. Though primary city residents were still much more likely to be poor than their suburban counterparts in 2005, the growing presence of poor in suburbs marked a significant shift in the geography of metropolitan poverty.

This Brookings Institute 2010 study looked deeper at these issues, building on previous Brookings research to analyze the location of poverty in America, particularly in the nation’s 95 largest metro areas, in 2000, 2007, and 2008, and how these trends have changed since 2000. The findings from this reveal that:

  • By 2008, suburbs were home to the largest and fastest-growing poor population in the country.
  • Midwestern cities and suburbs experienced by far the largest poverty rate increases over the decade.
  • In 2008, 91.6 million people—more than 30 percent of the nation’s population—fell below 200 percent of the federal poverty level.
  • Western cities and Florida suburbs were among the first to see the effects of the “Great Recession” translate into significant increases in poverty between 2007 and 2008.

These trends are likely to continue in the wake of the latest downturn, given its toll on traditionally more suburbanized industries and the faster pace of growth in suburban unemployment. This ongoing shift in the geography of American poverty increasingly requires regional scale collaboration by policymakers and social service providers in order to effectively address the needs of a poor population that is increasingly suburban.

Read the full report here.

LCI Program a National Model

March 16, 2010

Dan Reuter, ARC Land Use Division Chief made a presentation at the Transportation Research Board (TRB) 89th Annual Meeting – January 10-14, 2010 in Washington, D.C.  The title of the presentation was “ARC’s Livable Centers Initiative (LCI) – a National Model”.  The LCI program continues to be viewed as one of the best regional examples in the nation of how resources can be provided to local governments to implement strategies that link land use, housing and transportation investments.  LCI not only supports better alignment of land use with existing transportation infrastructure but also is a primary action undertaken by ARC to implement regional plans.

LCI has also been listed as a model program on the US DOT- Federal Transit Administration’s (FTA) Livable and Sustainable Communities web page. The website highlight’s FTA programs that fit into the larger US DOT Livability Initiative and the Federal Sustainable Communities Partnership.  The Sustainable Communities Partnership includes US DOT, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) working together to provide citizens with access to affordable housing, more transportation options, and lower transportation costs, while protecting the environment in communities nationwide.   The LCI program is listed on the website as the first item under “Livability Case Studies and Outreach” on the FTA website.  For more information see the following link:

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