The Georgia Initiative for Community Housing announces new participants

The Georgia Initiative for Community Housing announces new participants

December 12, 2007

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Athens, Ga. - The Georgia Initiative for Community Housing has chosen Calhoun, Cordele, Douglas, Griffin and Toccoa to participate in a three-year program to assist them with their housing needs.

GICH is a collaborative initiative begun in 2004 by the Housing and Demographics Research Center of the University of Georgia College of Family and Consumer Sciences, the Georgia Department of Community Affairs and the Georgia Municipal Association.

"Affordable housing plays a key role in the economic viability and development of communities," said Mike Beatty, DCA Commissioner. "The cities and countiesthat are participating in the initiative have taken an important first step in enhancing their communities by seeking viable and measurable options that will help them meet their unique housing needs."

During GICH's three-year program, each community housing team receives facilitation, instruction and technical assistance as they design and implement a housing program to improve both the quality of life of their citizens and the communities' economic conditions. The centerpiece of the initiative is a series of retreats, where each housing team works separately with a facilitator/housing professional, as well as engaging in cross-community sharing and collaboration. Communities have access to technical assistance and receive continuous feedback throughout the three-year program.

Any city, county, or public housing authority in Georgia is eligible to apply, on behalf of a community housing team. The teams consist of about 12 members and include representatives from local government, business (banks, real estate, and builders/developers), nonprofit housing organizations, and the public housing authority. Other groups may include faith-based organizations, churches, development authorities, chambers of commerce, school system, major employers, and law enforcement agencies.

"Nothing is more important to a community's viability and quality of life than having an adequate supply of decent, safe and affordable housing," said Jim Higdon, GMA executive director. "We applaud the local governments selected to participate in this program for their commitment to involve a broad cross-section of their community to address this critical issue."

The newest group of communities joins Camden County, Dalton/Whitfield, Hall County, Moultrie and Waynesboro, who are entering their third year of the program, and Colquitt, Metter, Milledgeville, Newnan and Tifton, who are entering their second year.

"Housing is an economic issue, both from the direct and indirect economic impact of construction and the availability of workforce housing in seeking new industry," said Tom Rodgers, director of housing at UGA's HDRC. "By participating in the GICH program, these cities and counties are actively addressing their community and economic development needs."

The GICH is partially funded by the Georgia Power Co., the U.S. Department of Agriculture-Rural Development, and the AGL Resources Foundation and is supported by the Georgia Electric Membership Corporation through in-kind services.

For questions about this program, contact Karen Tinsley, HDRC program coordinator, at 706/542-4949, or klt@uga.edu. Additional information can be found at www.fcs.uga.edu/hace/hdrc/gich/index.html.

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