Housing Study – The Future of Housing in Sugar Hill

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Home for Life – Sugar Hill Housing Study


1 Introduction
2 Existing Conditions
3 Data Projections and Analysis
4 Community Input
5 Discussion of Trends
6 Opportunities and Constraints
7 Recommendations
8 Work Plan
9 Appendix A – Munilytics Data
10 – Appendix B – Survey (English and Spanish)
11 – Appendix C – Workshop Exercises
12 – Appendix D – Model Foreclosure Ordinance

Executive Summary

Sugar Hill has become successful due mostly to the vision and grit of our friends and neighbors who have chosen to make their home here—Sugar Hill’s principal shareholders. The Mayor and City Council recognize that the quality of our neighborhoods is critically important to the continued success of our community. With Passion for keeping Sugar Hill a great place to live and do business, Vision for making it even better, and Creative leadership to see that it remains a stable, fun, and premiere place to call home, the Mayor and City Council are committed to ensure that the City delivers the finest quality services related to Housing.

This study is the result of leadership conversations focused on issues related to community development and is intended to study key elements in demographic and economic trends, as well as community preferences and values. Analysis and recommendations conducted in the pursuit of this study will be useful to inform City leaders when making policy decisions in the areas of housing, community, and economic development.

Three dominant trends emerged from the synthesis of data:

  • There is a need for more diversity in choices for housing.
  • Visual integrity of neighborhoods is a highly important issue to our residents.
  • Sugar Hill wants to be more connected and walkable.

Need Diverse Choices

It is expected that the city will see an increase in residents in the 65+ age group and in the age group between 35 and 44, which includes affluent professionals and young families.  Increasing home values may exacerbate an existing shortage of housing for moderate and very low income households, including a shortage of rental housing, particularly for the Millennial generation, as Sugar Hill proves to be a desirable place for this demographic as they begin to form new households.

Encouraging a diversity of dwelling sizes and types in the City will also assist the Baby Boomers to age in place.  Smaller unit sizes provided by townhomes or traditional apartment style units with little required maintenance and upkeep by residents are preferable for many retired seniors and millennials that do not want the responsibilities associated with detached single family homes.

Maintain Visually Appealing Neighborhoods

Community workshops indicated that among other issues yard upkeep and exterior maintenance are widely shared community values, suggesting broad support for new or reinvented code enforcement and property maintenance assistance programs.  Although a majority of the city’s neighborhoods are in excellent condition, deteriorating conditions have been noted in a few specific areas of the city.  These issues are primarily cosmetic at this point; however, code enforcement of exterior maintenance and landscaping standards could help stymy any further decay or destabilization of property values in older areas of the city.

Build Walkable and Connected Neighborhoods

Overall, the primary housing priorities for the city of Sugar Hill appear to be focused on providing sufficient housing choices for the growing population over 65 years of age, as well as meeting the needs of the affluent professionals and families that continue to migrate to the City.  Promoting a greater variety of housing choices, including apartment style units, townhouses, and smaller single family houses, as well as promoting pedestrian oriented, mixed use developments in the proper context would allow for residents to more easily age in place and additionally meet the needs of millennials that tend to favor renting over homeownership. Additionally, these more compact housing types can be easily incorporated into mixed used, walkable communities with more integrated access to basic neighborhood amenities and regional medical facilities.

Key Recommendations

The findings detailed in this report culminate in a list of recommended action items and suggestions for areas in which more detailed study is necessary. This five year work program is based on a synthesis of demographic, economic, and housing data with survey and workshop results to ensure that the outcomes reflect widely shared community values. What follows is a selection of the most significant elements from the work program:

  • Establish regular update cycles for visual assessment of housing stock.
  • Increase frequency of zoning and maintenance inspections in strategic areas of the City.
  • Coordinate public awareness campaigning with code enforcement initiatives.
  • Update landscape and architectural design standards.
  • Consider form based coding for appropriate areas, particularly within the Downtown.
  • Evaluate the appropriateness of accessory dwellings, zoning incentives for senior housing, universal design standards, and complete streets standards.
  • Perform suitability analysis for residential development (infill and new) and coordinate with planning strategies related to annexation and zoning policies.
  • Identify, inventory, and assess the supply of personal care homes in the area.

A thorough to do list associated with these findings is included at the end of this report as a practical guide which will be useful for budget planning and project management.