“Many across the Atlanta metro area do not have the knowledge, resources and support necessary to keep their home, maintain its value and safety and access to wealth in their homes, resulting in long-term instability and loss of generational and intergenerational wealth,” Prljaca said.
The Gwinnett Housing Corporation, a nonprofit development arm of the Lawrenceville Housing Authority, works to create, revitalize and preserve affordable housing. The agency provides various housing programs including emergency housing, transitional housing for homeless families, affordable rental housing and a homeownership program.
Buying a home is becoming more difficult because of the county’s housing shortage and because wages have not kept up with housing costs, Prljaca said.
“After the pandemic, we saw home values rise double digits, two, three years in a row now,” Prljaca said. “So that, coupled with some market forces like inflation, that is truly making homeownership almost out of reach.”
An Atlanta Journal-Constitution investigation, American Dream for Rent, found that out-of-state investors have contributed to metro Atlanta’s housing crunch, making it harder for first-time homebuyers to enter the market. Large investors disproportionately target diverse suburbs like Gwinnett, where homes were once less expensive.
The AJC’s analysis found that in the 30 ZIP codes with the most investor-owned properties, home values appreciated nearly twice as fast as the 30 ZIP codes where investors own the least.
“A lot of individuals just give up on homeownership in Gwinnett,” Prljaca said. “Even though they work here, their children go to school here, they are unable to achieve that homeownership dream.”