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Housing festival hopes to connect residents with services

POSTED: June 20, 2013 12:16 a.m.

Residents of Hall County with housing problems can get help at the Community Housing Festival on Saturday.

The festival, hosted by the city of Gainesville at Longwood Park, is designed to connect residents with services from government agencies, nonprofit groups and businesses. Help from these organizations may include housing repair, rent assistance, finding a job and utility payment assistance.

The festival 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.

Chris Davis, housing program manager with the Gainesville Community Development Department, hosted a summit earlier this year to identify groups in the community and the services they offer.

“The next step was to open it to the public so we could connect the people with the resources that they need,” Davis said. “We’re all in it as one community.”

Participating agencies include Homestar Financial, Metro Fair Housing, Hall Area Transit and Gateway House. About 35 community partners are expected to participate.

Sondra Rogers, supervisor of the United Methodist Children’s Home Gainesville office, will be educating residents about the services it offers. The agency offers emergency aid for shelter or rent payments to families who have kids under 18 years old and have been evicted. It also has a diaper closet for those who need it.

“We also offer parenting classes for anyone that wants to enhance their parenting skills,” Rogers said. “The second biggest part is foster care. We recruit foster homes.”

Wendy Glasbrenner, managing partner of the Gainesville office of Georgia Legal Services, said that organization is also participating. The nonprofit law firm helps residents in government housing in disputes with their landlord.
“We also help some people that are threatened with foreclosure,” Glasbrenner said. “We want to get our name out there; we always want people to know that we’re here and can offer some services.”

The event has enough food for 450 people, said Theresa Dyer, Gainesville housing coordinator.

“We would love to run out of food,” Dyer said. “That’s our goal, is run out of food. If we run out of food, we know that we’ve fed at least 450 people.”

The community housing festival will also feature music and face painting.

The festival is scheduled from 9 a.m. to noon Saturday at Longwood Park, across from Gainesville High School on Pearl Nix Parkway in Gainesville.


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