Fol­low­ing GICH con­fer­ence, City of Rock­mart set to go for $300,000 grant for project

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

With ev­ery­one back from the Ge­or­gia Ini­tia­tive for Com­mu­nity Hous­ing con­fer­ence held in Septem­ber, the city is ready to move on with the next round of ini­tia­tives.

One of those be­ing the need to di­vide up the work into three com­mit­tees to avoid "a hand­full do­ing all the work and get­ting burned out by the process," said coun­cil­man Sher­man Ross dur­ing their Oct. 11 meet­ing.

The main ar­eas he said the city needs to gather and fo­cus on in the com­ing years are ob­tain­ing grants, a heav­ier em­pha­sis on code en­force­ment and com­mu­nity en­gage­ment.

The ob­jec­tive of GICH is to help com­mu­ni­ties cre­ate and launch a plan to meet their hous­ing and neigh­bor­hood re­vi­tal­iza-

tion needs.

Dur­ing the pro­gram of tech­ni­cal as­sis­tance and cross-shar­ing the com­mu­nity hous­ing team is ex­pected to 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.

The coun­cil also voted whether to al­low the process to seek out an Ap­palachian Re­gional (ARC) grant – up to $300,000 - to help with com­mu­nity hous­ing projects within the city of Rock­mart. The dead­line for the grant ap­pli­ca­tion is De­cem­ber, and could help with a project be­ing worked on with the North­west Ge­or­gia Hous­ing Au­thor­ity.

The city is likely to seek other grants - in­clud­ing a Vet­eran Hous­ing pro­gram of up to $500,000 - along with smaller grants con­sid­ered are a cost shar­ing project with the Ge­or­gia Recre­ational Trails Pro­gram – up to $100,000 - and a com­mu­nity im­pact grant – up to $5,000 - from Home De­pot.

Ross also re­minded coun­cil mem­bers of the im­por­tance of the Ge­or­gia Land Bank Act of 2013, which pro­vides an av­enue for cities to re­ceive funds that could be used for clear­ing up deeds and tax liens on aban­doned prop­erty.

These could be sold to de­vel­op­ers or non-prof­its for de­vel­op­ment and re­turned to the tax roles.

He said that would also be one of the ar­eas the com­mit­tees will need to work on.

Team mem­bers have dis­cussed this op­tion, which could be uti- lized in part­ner­ship with other cities or coun­ties.

Polk County how­ever would first have to start up a land bank in or­der for the city to uti­lize the pro­gram.

Jeff El­lis, city man­ager, em­pha­sized that aban­doned or blighted prop­erty can sig­nif­i­cantly im­pact any neigh­bor­hood.

“Rock­mart is not the only com­mu­nity fac­ing these is­sues,” El­lis said. “It can be a win, win sit­u­a­tion when peo­ple take re­spon­si­bil­ity for main­te­nance and up­keep of build­ings they own.”

Ross also thanked team mem­bers for their help dur­ing the Fall Com­mu­nity Im­pact Day in part­ner­ship with Keep Polk Beau­ti­ful (KPB) on Satur­day, Sept. 24.

This project was sim­i­lar to one held dur­ing the spring when vol­un­teers picked up lit­ter from sev­eral prob­lem ar­eas in the com­mu­nity.

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