The top goal for leadership of the Northwest Georgia Housing Authority is to essentially put the authority out of business.
NWGHA Chairwoman Lee Hight and Director of Housing Melvin Scott briefed members of the Rome Noon Optimist Club on housing authority initiatives Monday — with particular emphasis on trying to help with the homeless population across the community.
“We are a housing authority that tries to think outside of the box,” Hight said. “We have a number of students in college who never thought they’d go to college. Boys and girls who live in public housing today may not live in public housing when they are adults. They are going to be educated and they’re going to find a good job and they’re going to get out. That’s our goal, that there won’t be any public housing one day. That would be fabulous.”
The authority has renewed its efforts to obtain some of the single family homes that are spread around the perimeter of the Northwest Georgia Regional Hospital campus.
“We are trying very hard to get the homes given to us because we are willing to redo the houses, fix them up and we’re willing to put the homeless in the houses. Now they just continue to sit there and deteriorate,” Hight said. “We’ve asked for them ever since (the hospital) closed. State Senator Chuck Hufstetler has helped us over and over, there are several people working on it right now for us because we’ve pushed again in in the last two weeks.”
Scott explained to the community leaders that 24% of the population the authority has helped to find housing in the past year were homeless at the time they filed for assistance from the housing authority.
The authority also has an allocation of 20 housing vouchers earmarked for homeless veterans and 17 of those vouchers are currently being used.
They’re putting a lot of energy toward preventing a return homelessness once someone is taken into public housing, he said.
The Family Self Sufficiency program which provides caseworkers to help a family maintain their housing and finances. Another program allows people to save a portion of their monthly housing payment which generates interest. Once the resident achieves established goals, they are able to get that money back.
“We recently had a woman who was able to escrow $18,000 and she was able to get that back and utilize for a home,” Scott said.
Hight also detailed plans the housing authority has for the conversion of 24 apartments in one of the High Rise Apartment buildings into a personal care home that would allow many of the extremely elderly and financially strapped residents of the units to age in place.
Renovation work on the building at the corner of Fifth Avenue and West 10th Street is already well underway.