ATLANTA (December 5, 2016)– Six Georgia communities have been newly selected to receive assistance with their housing needs through the Georgia Initiative for Community Housing (GICH), a public-private initiative that helps communities strategically grow their economies through housing-related solutions. Bartow County and the Cities of Commerce, Dublin, Fairburn, Warrenton and Union City will begin the three-year program in February.
Through training and technical instruction delivered during a series of conferences, community housing teams design and implement strategies to enhance their economies as well as the quality of life for their citizens. 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.
“GICH has helped a range of communities – urban, municipal and rural – create and launch locally-based plans to meet their housing and neighborhood revitalization needs. It’s exciting to see these teams collaborate across their communities and develop creative solutions,” said DCA Commissioner Camila Knowles. “These efforts form the foundation to build and sustain long-term housing and community development.”
The GICH teams consist of about 12 members and include representatives from local government and businesses, nonprofit housing organizations and the public housing authority. 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, 60 Georgia communities have benefited from the GICH program. The communities currently enrolled in the program are Athens-Clarke County, Cedartown, Evans County, Liberty County, Madison, Millen, Monroe, Pine Mountain, Rockmart and Trion.
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.
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 September.
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.
The GICH program is funded by Georgia Power as well as by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) through a Rural Community Development Initiative grant. 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.
For more information about GICH, visit the DCA website athttp://www.dca.ga.gov/communities/CommunityInitiatives/programs/GICH.asp.
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