The Rome-Floyd Land Bank Authority is working on expanding its horizons to include hands on assistance with the area’s housing shortfalls.

The authority was established in 2017 by the city and county commissions to assemble parcels from condemned and abandoned properties, so they can be sold for redevelopment.

“Between 2017 and this year, they have closed on 165 parcels and put them back on the tax rolls,” Land Bank Authority Director Bekki Fox said. “That makes up about $2.1 million in property values.”

Fox presented an update on its activities to the Floyd County Commission during their Tuesday caucus.

After four years of getting the authority on its feet, Fox said she’s looking at going beyond the turnover of properties, to partnering with developers and nonprofits.

Fox does similar work as Rome’s community development director. She said she could work with potential buyers and they could offer incentives, such as providing the land free and discounting building permit fees and water and sewer costs.

She also wants to see more diverse housing around the area that’s not just the typical apartment complex or townhome development.

“The standard for so long was the three-bedroom, two-bathroom house,” she said. “Now, with the Unified Land Development Code being adjusted, we could see more one-bedroom homes, tiny houses, cluster top houses where you have more density on top ... We hope the land bank can participate in those discussions.”

Another one of Fox’s goals is to eliminate blight around Rome and Floyd County.

“A blighted property would be a house that’s basically run down, vacant, the structure is failing, the windows are boarded up,” Fox said. “It’s just a drain on the neighborhood and often becomes a spot for drug use and crimes ... and when other houses are near them, it weakens their property values.”

To make sure buyers are living up to their promise of fixing up these properties, a reversionary clause is added to all contracts. The buyer must have a redevelopment plan and if it is not followed, the property reverts to the land bank.

Fox said she is also looking at reaching out to technical schools, including some of the local college and career academies, to see if the students would be interested in helping renovate properties.

With federal American Rescue Plan funds coming to the city and county, Fox said she hopes the land bank will get some kind of allocation and invest it back into the community.

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