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Officials to break ground on Phoenix Pass

CONYERS - Phoenix Pass, the proposed transitional housing program of the Light House Village in Conyers, moves to a new phase in its own development, and a newly formed independent board of directors is planning to break ground on the project next month.

Howard Greer, an associate pastor at Conyers First Baptist Church, said plans are in place to break ground in June on the first eight of 16 apartment units and a community building that will provide transitional housing for single mothers and their children who otherwise would have no place to live.

Phoenix Pass has been a component of Rockdale Emergency Relief since 2004 when the plans for the Light House Village were announced.

However, the economy has taken its toll on many nonprofit organizations, such as Rockdale Emergency Relief, and at the same time the demand for RER's services continues to rise. Greer said the group approached First Baptist Church last year about the possibility of taking on the task of completing Phoenix Pass.

"They came to us to ask if we would have an interest in taking it over," Greer said. "We told them we would have an interest if we could partner with them to move the efforts forward."

The outcome was the creation of Phoenix Pass Inc., a nonprofit corporation that will make the facility a stand-alone entity.

The board of directors is made up of members of First Baptist Church, RER officials and two local residents as at-large directors. Greer will serve as chief executive officer of Phoenix Pass. Rockdale Emergency Relief director Ashley Roesler was named as chief financial officer and secretary of the group.

Phoenix Pass has the benefit of having $300,000 already raised from individuals and businesses in the community. The group will work with HomeAid Atlanta, a nonprofit that focuses on multi-unit transitional housing.

Plans are to provide temporary housing for mothers and their children who could live in the two-bedroom, two-bathroom apartments from six months to two years.

During a family's stay, Phoenix Pass will provide classes on personal budgeting, job searching and resume preparation, parenting and other areas as needed, Greer said.

Another possible resource for Phoenix Pass residents will come from the opportunities to provide internships for college students studying social services, Greer said.

Greer said the next challenge is to maintain momentum in the community to build the second phase of apartments and support annual operating costs.

Greer estimated it would take about $114,000 a year to operate the facility.

"The community embraced Phoenix Pass, and enough money was raised to build it," Greer said. "We will need that support to grow."

Jay Jones can be reached at jay.jones@rockdalecitizen.com.