Ivy Street is one of the areas Porterdale City Manager Bob Thomson said would be a focus for the Georgia Initiative for Community Housing program. The three-year program will give the city guidance on how to improve its housing needs. (Staff photo: Julie Wells)
PORTERDALE – Selected as one of the five communities to be part of the Georgia Initiative for Community Housing, the city of Porterdale will soon receive instruction on how to improve its housing conditions.
The GICH’s purpose is to help communities create and launch a locally-based plan to meet housing and neighborhood revitalization needs. Funded by the Georgia Power Company, GICH is a collaboration of the Housing and Demographics Research Center, the University of Georgia Office of the Vice President for Public Service and Outreach, the Georgia Department of Community Affairs and the Georgia Municipal Association.
Mayor Arline Chapman said she wants to see the program help the city revamp properties and enforce housing codes with landlords.
“The problem now is the fact that we have landlords renting out houses that are not fit for human habitation. While we do have many well-maintained houses and landlords making renovations, there are streets where that’s the absolute opposite,” Chapman said. “The GICH’s goal is to offer great housing for everyone regardless of economic status, and there’s potential to do that here.”
City Manager Bob Thomson said Pine, Ivy, and Poplar streets as well as the Rose Hill community are a few of the areas that would be part of the initiative because there are clusters of boarded up houses and many others in poor condition.
“We’re going to focus on the whole historic district,” Chapman said. “Some streets are worse than others. I’m not so sure that we’ll pick out just one place, but instead get the whole city fixed up to provide decent housing regardless of income.”
During the GICH’s three-year program, Porterdale’s community housing team will receive facilitation, instruction and technical assistance as they design and implement a housing program to enhance the quality of life for residents and the city’s economic conditions.
Chapman said for now the housing team will consist of Porterdale City Council members. They will attend the first GICH workshop in February in Douglasville.
GICH program coordinator Karen Tinsley said the communities will attend a series of retreats where each housing team will work separately with a housing professional as well as engage in cross-community collaboration.
“Class sharing is a big part of the workshops and it really helps the housing teams to learn from each other,” Tinsley said. “In the first workshop, the communities will identify their problem areas and prioritize their objectives as to what they want to accomplish. We will discuss code enforcements, affordable housing and other programs that can help revitalize a community or neighborhood.”
Porterdale and the other four communities – Albany, Douglasville, Perry and Rincon – will receive continuous feedback throughout the three-year program, working closely with their own housing professional or program facilitator.
The program selects five communities every year. Any city, county or public housing authority in the state is eligible to apply on behalf of a community housing team. Communities were selected after site visits based on need and the ability to benefit from the program.