Hous­ing Au­thor­ity seeks $20 mil­lion for re­mod­el­ing

Ren­o­va­tions to be­gin in 2016 as Cedartown city com­mis­sion ap­proves bond sales

The Standard Journal - - FRONT PAGE - By KEVIN MYRICK Editor

Cedartown city com­mis­sion­ers gave their bless­ing at its Septem­ber meet­ing for the Hous­ing Au­thor­ity to seek out $20 mil­lion in bonds to pay for ren­o­va­tions to low in­come hous­ing at four lo­ca­tions in the city.

Com­mis­sion­ers ap­proved res­o­lu­tions at the Sept. 14 meet­ing to al­low two bond is­sues: One for $13 mil­lion for ren­o­va­tions to mul­ti­fam­ily units owned by the Hous­ing Au­thor­ity, and a sec­ond for $7 mil­lion to re­pair hous­ing for se­niors with dis­abil­i­ties.

Alice Cook, the ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor of the Cedartown Hous­ing Au­thor­ity, told com­mis­sion­ers the ren­o­va­tions would cover all of the units and that work would take at least 18 months to com­plete.

She ex­plained how the ren­o­va­tions would work: Start­ing in Jan­uary 2016 at Gray­field, any res­i­dents left on the first floor will be moved to one of the up­per floors tem­po­rar­ily un­til work is com­pleted on the units on the ground floor.

Once those are com­pleted, res­i­dents will be moved down as con­struc­tion moves up­ward un­til ev­ery apart­ment in the com­plex has been re­mod­eled, and the se­nior res­i­dents at Gray­field Apart­ments are all back in their orig­i­nal homes.

Com­mis­sioner Gary Martin was es­pe­cially pleased to hear the work was soon to be­gin.

“I’ve been in there sev­eral times to cut hair for res­i­dents, and it needs some­thing done in there re­ally badly,” he said.

Work will in­clude re­plac­ing kitchen cab­i­nets and ap­pli­ances, wa­ter heaters and cen­tral heat­ing and air units as nec­es­sary, plumb­ing, paint­ing and more, Cook ex­plained.

A sim­i­lar sys­tem will work for the rest of the fam­ily hous­ing units rented out at sev­eral lo­ca­tions around town, in­clud­ing the Eastview Homes on Cooper, Cen­tral and Lake Streets, at Canal Court off South Col­lege Street and the Rock Street prop­er­ties; ren­o­va­tions will also in­clude other scat­tered sites, such as prop­er­ties on East Queen Street, Al­pha Way and Greenwood Drive.

As of May 31, 2015, ac­cord­ing to data col­lected by the Depart­ment of Hous­ing and Ur­ban De­vel­op­ment, which over­sees the Hous­ing Au­thor­ity, 541 peo­ple were liv­ing in the 290 (out of 304) hous­ing units man­aged by the Cedartown Hous­ing Au­thor­ity: 14 per­cent were chil­dren age 0-5; 20 per­cent were chil- dren age 6-17; 12 per­cent were age 62 or older; 65 per­cent were dis­abled, and 91 per­cent were headed by a fe­male.

Res­i­dents pay rent cal­cu­lated on 30 per­cent of their in­come.

Cook ex­plained that once a hous­ing unit – she used four units in a lo­ca­tion as an ex­am­ple - is cleared of res­i­dents, or if there are only a few left, they’ll be moved tem­po­rar­ily to a new unit so con­trac­tors can work on re­vamp­ing the prop­erty. New fam­i­lies will be moved in fol­low­ing that, and the process will con­tinue un­til all res­i­dents are in newly re­mod­eled units.

No new va­can­cies will be filled un­til the projects are com­pleted, Cook said.

“We’ve let the va­cancy rate build up to al­low the work to hap­pen,” she said. “Once it’s com­pleted, we’ll start mov­ing new res­i­dents in from the list of ap­pli­cants.

The Hous­ing Au­thor­ity is still tak­ing ap­pli­ca­tions for new res­i­dents, but those who are in­ter­ested in mov­ing in will be put on a wait list for the time be­ing.

“Any­one in­ter­ested in get­ting an ap­pli­ca­tion can call 770-748-1650 or they can come by and pick them up,” she said.

Weaver-Cooke, a con­struc­tion firm orig­i­nally out of North Carolina, will man­age both projects. The Hous­ing Au­thor­ity was not re­quired to bid out ei­ther projects since both were RAD – or Rental As­si­tance Demon­stra­tion – projects through the U. S. Depart­ment of Hous­ing and Ur­ban De­vel­op­ment.

Cook said the group has al­ready started ac­cept­ing bids for sub­con­tract­ing work from lo­cal con­trac­tors.

Though the city ap­proved the Hous­ing Au­thor­ity’s bond sales, it is not un­der any obli­ga­tion to pay back the $20 mil­lion the or­ga­ni­za­tion is bor­row­ing be­tween the two projects should the debt be de­faulted, ac­cord­ing to City At­tor­ney Carey Pil­grim.

The bonds – which are traded on mar­kets much like the stock mar­ket – are pur­chased by in­vestors and the money that the hous­ing au­thor­ity makes back on rent pays off those in­vest­ments over time.

Gray­field Apart­ments, the Cedartown Hous­ing Au­thor­ity Se­nior high rise on West Av­enue, will be one of many prop­er­ties where ren­o­va­tions are slated to start in Jan­uary 2016.

Fam­ily hous­ing units like this one at Cedar Ridge Apart­ments on Col­lege Street will be get­ting ren­o­va­tions soon.

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