Housing costs are rising rapidly in metro Atlanta.
According to a September 30 report conducted by ApartmentList, rent prices in Atlanta have risen 2.9% over the last month. Compared to the same time last year, prices are 18.8% higher.
Atlanta’s year-over-year rent growth is less than the state average of 22.7% but higher than the national average of 15.1%. October is the tenth month of increasing prices since a price drop last November.
Currently, the state median monthly rent is approximately $1,200, as reported by Zumper.com. For Atlanta, the median rent is $1,660. In Sandy Springs, Decatur and Marietta, the medians are $1,600, $1,440 and $1,290, respectively.
In metro Atlanta, Smyrna had the fastest-growing rent, which is up 21.4% since last year. Alpharetta is growing the second fastest with an increase of 19.3%.
Units that cost between $701-$1000 per month make up 6% of the market, $1001-$1500 are 31%, $1501-$2000 are 41%, and those more expensive than $2000 a month are 22%.
In May, Atlanta was ranked as one of the national leaders for apartment demand, bested only by the Dallas/Fort Worth submarket.
Henry County resident Nu Simmons has been personally impacted by rent increases across the state. She hasn’t been able to pay her rent the last few months due to losing her income during the pandemic.
After losing her job in 2020, Simmons applied for unemployment to keep her afloat financially. It took a long time for her to get the benefits.
While waiting for unemployment, Simmons had a hard time paying her rent. Her rental company was understanding, but she was afraid of being penalized for late payments.
“I had to hold [the leasing office] off,” Simmons said. “They were understanding, but still, I feel like it might have gone down on my record that I was late [on rent]… There’s a certain level of stress with not paying your rent when you’re used to paying it every month.”
She was told that since Georgia ended its federal unemployment benefits in June, she would need to reapply for unemployment. Simmons was told that the application would be denied at first, but would then transfer over into Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA).
But it never did.
She tried to reach out to unemployment offices regarding her application via phone, email, and even Twitter- without a response. Without her unemployment benefits, Simmons resorted to working as a Rideshare driver.
She didn’t always have enough rides for full-time hours, so she kept searching for more permanent employment. Driving provided Simmons with enough money for her non-rent expenses, and the money she had saved with unemployment payments covered her rent.
She recently started a job in her field, mental health, even though it’s low-paying.
“It’s like they’re saying people are hiring, but they’re kind of not,” Simmons said. “They’re taking applications, it seems. It seems like they’re just hoarding applications until they really need somebody, and then go through the applications.”
She was only able to get the job she has because her friend was selected for the position but was overqualified, so she referred Simmons instead.
Despite the new position, Simmons was unable to pay August’s rent.
“I was just devastated… I had some of it, but I didn’t have all of it,” Simmons said.
She then applied for rental assistance and was approved, but the Henry County Rental Assistance Program has yet to release the funds to her landlord.
“But even with that, I’m still getting eviction letters,” Simmons said. “[The rental property] knows that the money is supposed to be coming through.”
The application is currently closed, as the county was overwhelmed with the volume of applications.
“I don’t like the fact that it may be on my record that I’m late on rent, even though I did find a solution and it’s just a matter of the money going through,” Simmons said. “That was in August and it’s October now, and it hasn’t been paid yet.”
As a mother, Simmons has experienced a great deal of stress while trying to pay her rent and keep her children in a safe area so she doesn’t have to worry about them while she works.
She was only approved for the unit she lives in now because a friend of hers was willing to put themselves on the lease, due to her not meeting the income requirement of four times the rent.
Since moving in, her rent has already increased by $100.