LAGRANGE, Ga. — Five Georgia communities have been newly selected to receive assistance with their housing needs through the Georgia Initiative for Community Housing (GICH), a public-private program that helps communities strategically grow their economies through housing-related solutions.
The cities of Statesboro, Ocilla, Hartwell, Adel and Rossville/Lafayette will begin the three-year program in February 2020, according to a press release from the Georgia Department of Community Affairs. The communities were recognized at the DCA’s annual Fall Conference in LaGrange on Oct. 16.
Through training and technical instruction delivered during a series of conferences, community housing teams design and implement strategies to enhance their economics as well as the quality of life for their citizens, according to DCA. During these sessions, each team will work with and receive continuous feedback from a facilitator or housing professional, as well as engage in cross-community collaboration.
The GICH teams consist of about 12 members, and include representatives from local government and businesses. nonprofit housing organizations and the local public housing authority, the press release said. Teams may also include members of local faith-based organizations and churches, development authorities, chambers of commerce, school systems, major employers and law enforcement.
Since the program's inception in 2005, 76 Georgia communities have benefited from the GICH program. Some of the resulting strategies undertaken by communities include revitalizing distressed neighborhoods and subdivisions, developing multi-family apartments through tax credits, updating codes and ordinances, creating a land bank authority, writing an urban redevelopment plan, conducting a housing assessment, and launching community clean-up programs, the press release said.
Each year, GICH communities are selected to participate in the initiative through a competitive process. Communities are selected based on need and a demonstrated commitment to community improvement. Any city, county or public housing authority in Georgia is eligible to apply on behalf of a community housing team. Applications are due in August.
GICH is a collaboration of partners including the University of Georgia's Housing and Demographics Research Center, a unit of the Department of Financial Planning, Housing and Consumer Economics in the College of Family and Consumer Sciences; UGA's Office of the Vice President for Public Service and Outreach; the Georgia Department of Community Affairs; and the Georgia Municipal Association, a voluntary, non-profit organization based in Atlanta that provides legislative advocacy, educational, employee benefit and consulting services to its 521 member cities.
Georgia Power funds the GICH program. Additional in-kind services are provided by UGA Cooperative Extension and UGA's Archway Partnership and the Carl Vinson Institute of Government, both units of the UGA Office of Public Service and Outreach.