Rockmart City Seal

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 hand full 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 revitalization 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 utilized 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.