Athens, Ga. – The Georgia Initiative for Community Housing has chosen Brunswick, Hawkinsville, Rome, Sandersville/Tennille/Washington County, and Vienna to participate in a three-year program designed to assist them with their housing needs.
GICH is a collaborative initiative of the Housing and Demographics Research Center in the University of Georgia College of Family and Consumer Sciences, the Georgia Department of Community Affairs and the Georgia Municipal Association.
“Nothing is more important to a community’s viability and quality of life than having an adequate supply of decent, safe and affordable housing,” according to Jim Higdon, GMA executive director. “We applaud the local governments selected to participate in this program for their commitment to involving a broad cross-section of their community to address this critical issue.”
Communities participating in GICH’s three-year program receive 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, and engages in cross-community sharing and collaboration. Communities have access to technical assistance and receive continuous feedback throughout the three-year program.
“The quality and appearance of a community’s housing set the tone for the community,” said Tom Rodgers, director of housing for HDRC. “As you drive by the city limits and see attractive homes and yards, you immediately form a positive image of the community as a whole. It is our hope that GICH helps communities set a positive image.”
Since GICH began five years ago, 11 communities have completed the program. Including the incoming group, 15 communities are currently participating. They include: Calhoun, Cordele, Douglas, Griffin and Toccoa, which are in their second year; and Colquitt, Metter, Milledgeville, Newnan and Tifton, which are in their third year.
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 systems, major employers and law enforcement agencies.
“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.”
GICH is partially funded by the Georgia Power Co., the U.S. Department of Agriculture-Rural Development, the Wachovia Foundation, and the AGL Resources Foundation. It is supported by the Georgia Electric Membership Corp. and the University of Georgia Archway Partnership Program through in-kind services.