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Transitional housing was summit's focus
Anne Nixon, executive director of Habitat for Humanity of Hall County, writes down ideas for how to collaborate with other organizations on addressing housing needs in the Northeast Georgia area Friday at a housing summit held in Oakwood. - photo by SARAH MUELLER

The common theme of Gainesville’s housing summit Friday was the need for transitional housing in the area.

Several Gainesville, Hall County, state and federal agencies met Friday morning to find out what each organization does and how they can collaborate to meet the area’s housing needs. The event was held at the Goodwill office on Mundy Mill Road in Oakwood.

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. Agencies that participated included Gateway House Inc., U.S. Department of Agriculture, Habitat for Humanity of Hall County and the Georgia Department of Community Affairs.

Chris Davis, housing program manager for Gainesville’s Community Development Department, put the event together as part of its GICH work plan.

“I had really great feedback from everyone,” Davis said. “I think it was tremendously beneficial.”

Some of the common needs that came out of the meeting was bus service expansion, more transitional housing and supplies. Facilitator Niki Knox, senior community economic development consultant for Georgia EMC, had each agency answer questions, such as what the agency does, its 2013 plans and goals were, and its top wish list items, on poster-sized paper hung on the walls.

Representatives from each agency went to each list and wrote down what, if any, contribution they could make to help that organization.

Family Promise of Hall County, open for less than a year, is looking for transitional housing for homeless children and their families. Lindsey McCamy said services the nonprofit offers includes finding a job, credit counseling and obtaining a GED diploma, also needs more churches to host families.

“If it’s a two-income family, it’s a little bit easier if they’ve gotten a job early on in terms of the program,” she said. “If they’ve gotten a job at the end of 90 days, there’s no way to come up with $2,000. So that’s been a huge struggle in affordable housing.”

Cindy Bryant of Gateway Domestic Violence Center said her agency was hearing the same needs and making some great connections. Gateway is building some transitional housing apartments, but its ongoing need is trying to find housing for clients who are moving out their shelters and a list of private landlords would help, she said.

Anne Nixon, executive director for Habitat, offered to help some of the other agencies, such as offering mattresses and pillows to Family Promise. She said it was a great opportunity and an example of how people from cities, counties, governments and private groups can come together with an common objective.

“Together we’re much stronger,” Nixon said.

Knox is going to compile a concept list for all participants so that the organizations know where to turn for resources. Attendees said they want to meet regularly and Davis said he is hoping to set up another meeting in the next month. Davis also wants to use the summit as a springboard for a public housing fair.

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