• Housing assessment and urban redevelopment ideas are also part of the committee’s recent meeting work.

The Rethink Rockmart group is hoping to start building in the coming year.

Rethink recently applied to the Community Home Investment Program (CHIP) for a total of $300,000. Should the application be approved, Rockmart City Councilmember Sherman Ross hopes to see three new homes built in the city.

The group also spoke about their Urban Revitalization Plan and received housing assessment training before wrapping up another month of local work as part of the Georgia Initiative for Community Housing program.

“We’re applying for $300,000 to be utilized in partnership with Habitat to build three houses,” Ross said. “We’ll know if we got accepted in the first part of February.”

Habitat for Humanity, the group’s housing partner, is a global nonprofit housing organization that helps to build, renovates, and generally improves housing for applicants.

The organization also addresses post-disaster housing needs and advocates and raises awareness about affordable housing. Habitat has been involved in Polk projects before, but on an individual level with re-builds of homes already in place.

If the grant money is approved, Rethink Rockmart would seek to build new properties. Those who would be chosen as the families to move into Habitat housing would still have to meet loan requirements for the organization, and volunteer their own time in construction.

Rockmart City Manager Jeff Ellis then walked Rethink members through house surveying while giving them tips and guidelines during the Nov. 30 meeting.

The goal is to put together a record of the city’s blighted properties documented with information about any structural damage or code violations that would make the house unsafe to live in or dangerous to citizens.

“This survey is for all housing within the city,” Ross said.

The housing survey prompts volunteers and officials to list the type of property, whether the structure is occupied, if the structure is a rental property, how the address is displayed, any structural damage, any major defects, potential hazards nearby, and curb appeal among others.

The group is already hard at work surveying and has numerous houses documented.

“Use common sense when you do these surveys,” Ellis explained. “The person living in this house may not have the resources to bring it to the standard you feel it needs to be brought to. What we’re looking for is structural damage that could affect the health, safety, and general welfare of not only the people living there but the neighbors and surrounding people.”

The group receives technical support from the Geography Housing and Consumer Economics Department at the University of Georgia for projects such as the house surveying.

Rethink then prepared a map highlighting the areas of planned redevelopment.

A large portion of the city including Westside Community, Central Residential Neighborhood, Goodyear Street Corridor, Piedmont Commercial Corridor, and Downtown Rockmart are highlighted for future redevelopment.

Urban redevelopment is a program of land revitalization, often where there is urban decay.

The Redevelopment was founded and developed in 2013 with assistance from the Northwest Georgia Commission who helped study and prepare the redevelopment map.

The Rethink Rockmart group will be taking December off but will continue meeting on the last Thursday of each month starting in January at Rockmart’s City Hall, 214 N. Piedmont Ave.

Those interesting in being a part of Rethink Rockmart can contact the group at https://www.facebook.com/rethinkrockmart/.