Housing Authority seeks $20 million for remodeling
Renovations to begin in 2016 as Cedartown city commission approves bond sales
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.