Rockmart selected for GICH
Rockmart has been chosen to participate in the Georgia Initiative for Community Housing (GICH) program and local leaders are planning to attend the first retreat scheduled Feb. 22-25, 2016.
Prior to that time, a pre-retreat orientation meeting will be held on January 25-29. During this session, Sherman Ross, city council member, and Stacey Smith, director of Rockmart’s Department of Community Development, will meet with housing team members. This group includes Vicki Sutton, Brenda Leslie, Jon Forsyth, Debbie Ross, Bruce Day, Tonya Glover, Brittney Hickom, Tamaka Hudson, Chris Culver, Danny Echols, Cathy Matthews, Clint Brock and Sandy McClure.
These individuals will view blighted neighborhoods and develop an action plan to address problem areas.
Local officials have discussed several that could become eligible for technical assistance provided as part of the GICH program. These include College, Goodyear Village, Pearl, Beach, Williamson and Church streets, Piedmont Avenue, Jones Hill and Westside.
“It will take a collective effort of those involved,” said Ross. “Everyone wants to take back their community by working with law enforcement and other agencies to improve housing for residents.”
He said other communities selected to participate in the GICH program in 2016 are Athens-Clark County, Evans County, Millen and Monroe.
“We are delighted to be a part of this opportunity,” said Mayor
Steve Miller. “It will bring people with expertise to Rockmart that can provide information on how to successfully address problems in blighted neighborhoods.”
Karen Tinsley, GICH program director, said she anticipates working with Rockmart’s housing team during the next 3 years. “This will be a time for you to make great strides in fashioning solutions to the housing needs unique to Rockmart.”
Since Rockmart has been selected for GICH assistance, the City will receive help in creating and launching a locally based housing plan to meet housing needs and neighborhood revitalization. This will involve technical assistance, collaboration, expert presenters, trainers, facilitation, and consensus building, networking and mentoring.
During the program of technical assistance and cross-sharing the community housing team will: attend two retreats a year with other participating communities, identify issues and needs, available resources and potential objectives, develop new ideas, learn about best practices and available resources and funding for housing and community development, produce a housing plan with objectives and goals and begin implementation of a program of action.
Ross said city officials continue to address local housing needs for Rockmart citizens. He referenced recent approval of ordinances to improve conditions brought about by vacant and abandoned properties identified as dangerous or unsafe.
Noted was the fact that these buildings not only attract criminal activities but also contribute to health issues and a decrease in property values.
Smith said participation in the GICH program could also have an impact on economic development.
“Prospects who come to make decisions about new business or industry location often inquire about housing for their staff,” she said. “Plant managers and other company officials also seek places to live in the community they serve.”
Stacey Smith, director of Rockmart’s Department of Community Development, receives call inquiring about the GICH program.