Thousands of Atlanta homes sit vacant amid housing crisis, data shows

ATLANTA — Amid a housing crisis across the United States, large metropolitan areas like Atlanta have seen a surge of migration, with Americans searching for jobs, homes, and places to settle down.

The change in housing needs and purchase behaviors caused by the pandemic saw hundreds of thousands move to areas in the Sunbelt, according to data from the U.S. Census Bureau, including the outlying areas of the Atlanta metro.

“Fast-growing metro areas in the West, such as Las Vegas and Phoenix, showed notable growth,” the Census reported in March. “In the South, net domestic migration gains were seen in Florida, the Carolinas, north Georgia (surrounding Atlanta), and in the major metro areas of Texas — although not in the urban cores of Dallas or Houston.”

Despite migration, there are millions of empty homes across the United States, and hundreds of thousands in the Atlanta area alone.

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For Atlanta, almost 10% of homes for rent were vacant. Census data showed that, as of 2020, 258,245 housing units existed in the City of Atlanta, and 2.4 million in the larger Atlanta metropolitan area.

Overall, the same Census Bureau data shows there are 4.4 million housing units in the state of Georgia.

Data from the Census Bureau shows that vacant units continue to see increases in asking price, even as mortgage rates increase and inflation remains persistent.

When it comes to empty homes, the data showed there were nearly 500,000 overall units empty, split between those for sale, and those for rent both unoccupied or seasonal, statewide.

Across Georgia, close to 231,400 homes are listed as “other vacant,” which the Census Bureau defines as “includ[ing] units held for occupancy by a caretaker or janitor, and units held for personal reasons of the owner.”

In just Atlanta, there are 35,300 or so empty housing units with more than 40% “other vacant,” while in the larger Atlanta metro, there are nearly 180,000 homes without residents or tenants, and 40% also listed as “other vacant.”


The largest proportion of vacant homes in Georgia, the Atlanta metro, and the City of Atlanta, are all in the “other vacant” category, followed by empty units for rent, for sale only, or for seasonal or recreational use.

The number of homes sitting empty while millions struggle to find housing isn’t restricted to metros in the Peach State.

Census Bureau data also shows that while Americans traversed the nation to find new communities, the number of homes sitting empty was in the millions.

“In 645 of the nation’s 3,143 counties, seasonal units made up at least 50% of the vacant housing in the county,” the Census reported. “In 1,313 counties, seasonal units outnumbered the combined total number of units for rent or sale that were vacant.”

The Census Bureau reported there were 4.3 million vacant seasonal units throughout the country, with seasonal units being the largest category of vacant housing inventory “again.”

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development reported that, as of 2022, there were close to 600,000 homeless people in America. HUD said that equals about 18 of every 10,000 Americans. Of those hundreds of thousands, more than 10,600 live in Georgia.

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Solving homelessness is a cornerstone of the City of Atlanta’s latest annual budget, with Mayor Andre Dickens promoting affordable housing as a priority for officials.

Channel 2′s Richard Elliot reported in early May that the city had approved $100 million for affordable housing needs in the city, and a goal of doubling the investment, pending City Council approval.

Another announcement by Dickens on Thursday accompanied another $1.4 million award to address housing in Atlanta.


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