New pint-sized homes could soon sprout in Fulton County, thanks to a budding initiative aimed at diversifying the county’s housing stock and boosting affordability, Fulton’s commission chairman Robb Pitts told Atlanta Civic Circle this week.
Pitts said a recent visit to Clarkston’s new tiny home community in DeKalb County, the Cottages on Vaughan, inspired him to launch a pilot program that will create a village of eight little houses for sale on county-owned land. They will range from 300 to 500 square feet and cost between $100,000 and $125,000.
The initiative will cost the county about $1 million, Pitts estimated, calling it a worthwhile investment to increase housing access.
In an overheated housing market, there’s a lot of appeal to building bite-sized homes because it’s so much cheaper, said Will Johnston, the head of nonprofit developer MicroLife Institute, which created the Cottages on Vaughan.
“The market is crazy for materials right now. Prices are ridiculous,” Johnston told Atlanta Civic Circle, so building multiple units on a smaller piece of land creates big cost savings. It doesn’t hurt that utilities are cheaper when you’re living little, he added.
Pitts said he thinks this type of home would be perfect for Fulton’s seniors, veterans, and low-income residents who have trouble finding stable housing.
The county commission chair aims to get the mini-home pilot under way as soon as possible. He said construction could start in about six months, and people could be moving in less than a year from then. Fulton officials have already identified a few suitable parcels, Pitts said, so now they need to assess their access to transportation, schools, jobs, and stores.
Pitts said he’s prepared to navigate any roadblocks that pop up in the form of restrictive zoning codes or pushback from neighbors with NIMBY (not in my backyard) mindsets.
“The elected officials are going to have to be visionary and bring the public along,” Pitts said, but he doesn’t think tiny homes should be a hard sell for either neighbors or potential buyers. He, for one, is ready to spread the micro-living gospel to his constituents and neighboring government leaders.
The eight units in the Clarkston community sold out fast at prices from $109,000 to over $200,000. So did the more luxurious and pricier tiny homes in College Park’s South Park Cottages, which started at $180,000, according to the developer. The 29-unit subdivision, billed as the largest tiny home project in Georgia, is still under construction.
“That just goes to show you there’s going to be a market for them,” Pitts said. “Some developer is going to make a killing.”
The MicroLife project in Clarkston has “sparked a lot of conversation nationwide,” Johnston said, from government leaders and developers as near as Alabama and Florida and as far as Maine and Washington.
Pitts is already thinking about ways to expand Fulton’s tiny home initiative. Local faith-based organizations could help to create more tiny homes, he suggested, since the COVID-19 pandemic means some don’t need as much acreage as they once did.