Rock­mart se­lected for GICH

The Standard Journal - - FRONT PAGE - From Staff Re­ports

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.

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