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Summit to identify housing resources

POSTED: February 20, 2013 11:54 p.m.

There’s a need in Hall County for low- and moderate-income housing, said Pat Freeman, CEO of Legacy Link Inc., an area agency that provides services to seniors and their families.

Legacy Link is one of more than a dozen agencies invited to a housing summit Friday by the city of Gainesville’s Community Development Department.

The purpose of the summit is to try to bring together all the local agencies and government departments that deal with housing issues to find out what resources are available and if there’s duplication or gaps in services.

The summit is part of Gainesville’s participation in the Georgia Initiative for Community Housing program, which helps communities create and launch plans to meet local housing neighborhood revitalization needs. More than a dozen agencies are expected to participate.

“We’re interested in what kind of plans might come out of it,” Freeman said.

Chris Davis, housing program manager for the Community Development Department, said he is worried there is a local agency out there they don’t know about and that didn’t get an invitation to Friday’s event. But the purpose of the summit is to include everyone and make connections. He hopes the summit leads to a future housing fair for the public.

“It’s a networking opportunity for agencies,” Davis said.

Niki Knox, senior community economic development consultant for Georgia EMC, will facilitate the discussion.

“Resources aren’t aware of the (other) resources available in the community,” Knox said.

Gainesville was one of five communities selected in late 2011 to participate in the housing program. The three-year program walks a community through identifying its housing and community development needs, developing an asset map and locating resources, and developing and putting a housing work plan in place.

The initiative was created because many Georgia communities, especially in rural areas, struggle to bring together the critical players, access funding and organize and implement a strategy, program documents state.

Gainesville has created a housing team by working with Hall County and collaborating with others across the state, including the Georgia Department of Community Affairs, said Jessica Tullar, special programs manager for the Gainesville Community Development Department.

Some housing issues the team wants to address are vacant houses not being maintained, a very high number of multiple families living in a single-family house and inadequate housing for the homeless.

One of the services Legacy Link provides is helping low-income residents of nursing homes or long-term care facilities, who are elderly or have a disability, move into independent homes or assisted-living places.

Since July, agency staff have helped 13 people make the transition through a state program that pays for care in a home or community-based setting. Younger people want to live on their own, but it can be challenging to find handicap-accessible apartments, Freeman said.

“If there’s no available housing, they’re stuck in the nursing home,” she said.

The meeting runs from 9 a.m. to noon at the Oakwood Career Center in the Goodwill office on Mundy Mill Road. Some other agencies invited to participate include the Gainesville Salvation Army, Georgia Department of Human Services and Habitat for Humanity of Hall County.


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