FULTON COUNTY, Ga. — Housing and transportation are key issues for Fulton County residents, according to the Atlanta Regional Commission’s 2019 Metro Atlanta Speaks Survey.
The survey, conducted by Kennesaw State University’s A.L. Burruss Institute of Public Service and Research, polled close to 5,500 people across 13 Metro Atlanta counties, including Fulton, about quality-of-life issues. The survey was spurred by the ARC’s new Metro Atlanta Housing Strategy designed to help local governments better understand their housing challenges. It also seeks to help address those challenges through actionable strategies, according to ARC Senior Communications Coordinator Kate Sweeney.
“This year’s Metro Atlanta Speaks survey makes it clear that housing is a big concern in our region,” said Doug Hooker, ARC executive director. “The Metro Atlanta Housing Strategy provides a strategic, regional approach to address this critical issue. As a region, we must take action if we are to maintain our economic competitiveness and remain a great place to live.”
One of the key survey findings shows about 45 percent of Fulton residents could not afford to stay in their communities if they had to move.
Additionally, 65 percent of Fulton residents said they saw older homes in their area being replaced by new, more expensive housing. Nearly three-quarters, 74 percent, said they witnessed property flipping, where homes are remodeled and sold or rented at higher prices.
Almost a third of Fulton residents, 29 percent, named transportation as the biggest problem in the region, followed by crime at 21 percent. Expanded transit was chosen as the best traffic solution by over half of respondents.
Other survey topics included personal finances, local economy, and jobs and careers.
“The Metro Atlanta Speaks survey is a source of critical information for our organization and others,” said Ginneh Baugh, associate vice president of strategy and knowledge at the United Way of Greater Atlanta, one of the supporters of the survey. “It helps us gain a closer understanding of experiences of the region’s residents on a number of issues that are vital to our future.”
Other survey supporters include The Community Foundation of Greater Atlanta, MARTA, the Metro Atlanta Chamber, the North Fulton Community Improvement District, Invest Atlanta, Partnership Gwinnett and the DeKalb Chamber of Commerce.
North Fulton CID Program Director Kristin Winzeler said her organization supports the ARC and its efforts to help inform local and regional decision-making.
“Fulton County leadership has the ability to see what matters to their residents specifically in Fulton County,” Winzeler said. “This can inform planning and decision-making at the leadership level. Not only does this survey give residents a voice, it allows residents to gain more information about issues they may not be aware are affecting their communities… The more residents know the better prepared they can be to help themselves and their community.”
Kristin said that since the ARC survey began, transportation and traffic have consistently been named as some of the top concerns in the region.
“Transportation and traffic issues remain top of mind for everyone in the region,” Winzeler said. “Projections show that by 2050, Metro Atlanta will add 2.9 million residents. This is something to consider when planning for the future and investing in transportation and infrastructure improvements.”
North Fulton CID has used ARC survey information to launch initiatives to improve current transit, she said.
In January 2020, it will begin its bus shelter program in partnership with the City of Alpharetta and MARTA. As a part of the program, North Fulton CID will build three new bus shelters within its district and allow member to apply for additional funding to build or upgrade shelters near their locations.
“Investing in the current transit system is how we feel we can make an impact while giving the regional leadership time to determine what mass transit looks like for North Fulton and, more importantly, how it will be funded,” Winzeler said.
For more information and full survey results, including at county levels, visit atlantaregional.org/metroatlantaspeaks.