Athens, Ga. – A conference focusing on the need for affordable housing in Georgia and the regulatory barriers that inhibit its development will be held Tuesday, Sept. 25, at the Georgia Center for Continuing Education.
The keynote speaker for the event will be Darlene F. Williams, assistant secretary for policy development and research at the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. In addition to HUD, the symposium is co-sponsored by the University of Georgia College of Family and Consumer Sciences, the UGA Office of the Vice President for Public Service and Outreach, the Federal Home Loan Bank of Atlanta, the Georgia Municipal Association, the Georgia Department of Community Affairs and the Georgia State Trade Association of Non-Profit Developers.
“Red tape is choking the life out of housing that’s affordable for working families,” according to Bob Young, a regional director for HUD and former mayor of Augusta. “There is much work to be done to reach the goal of removing regulatory barriers and providing workforce housing.”
The conference, titled “A Symposium: Housing Opportunities for All Georgians,” is a part of HUD’s “America’s Affordable Communities Initiative,” which dates back to 2003, according to Young, who noted that more than 150 communities and organizations in Georgia have joined the effort. Sessions will focus on land use and zoning; land development standards, such as permit fees, impact fees and erosion control; and financial resources and risks facing lenders, developers and homebuyers.
Since 2000, the FACS Housing and Demographics Research Center has focused much of its efforts on issues revolving around workforce housing in Georgia. An HDRC study released in October 2001, showed that housing construction was virtually nonexistent in nearly half of Georgia’s counties. The study, which focused on housing that was “decent and affordable” for those earning an annual income between minimum wage and $60,000, pointed to issues of low profit margins in the development of affordable housing, inadequate infrastructure to support housing development and land development codes as among the factors limiting the availability of affordable housing.
Since the study’s release, the HDRC has established the Georgia Initiative for Community Housing in conjunction with the Georgia Department of Community Affairs and the Georgia Municipal Association. The initiative provides towns and cities the opportunity for collaboration and technical assistance over the course of three years to focus specifically on their housing needs, according to Tom Rodgers, associate director of the HDRC.
“Housing affordability is a moving target based on household income variability,” Rodgers said. “For tens of thousands of Georgia families, the cost of rent or ownership is a significant burden.”
Rodgers pointed to HUD’s “America’s Affordable Communities Initiative” as a way to encourage local governments to form task forces of local officials, builders and developers, bankers and real estate agents to identify regulations that unreasonably impact the cost of housing and revising or eliminating them.
“To address affordability, we have two choices,” Rodgers said, “lower the cost of the housing or raise the household income. Neither is easy to accomplish.”
To register for the conference, visit the Georgia Center for Continuing Education website http://www.georgiacenter.uga.edu/conferences/2007/Sep/25/housing.phtml.
For more information on the FACS Housing and Demographics Research Center, visit http://www.fcs.uga.edu/hace/hdrc/.