Canton was recently selected to participate in the next cohort for the Georgia Initiative for Community Housing (GICH). Chamblee, Montezuma, Villa Rica, and Gwinnett County were also admitted to this three-year program.
GICH helps communities improve quality of life and economic vitality through the development of locally driven housing and revitalization strategies. The program includes technical assistance, collaboration, interaction with expert presenters, training, consensus building, networking, and mentoring. Community housing teams attend two retreats per year with other communities as well as past participants.
The City's GICH application was led by Ken Patton, Canton's housing initiatives director. Patton identified the program as one that would help Canton meet future housing needs through thoughtful planning and implementation. As part of the application process, Patton compiled a list of local stakeholders who would partner with the City on this initiative. Canton's stakeholders include professionals from building, banking, real estate, housing focused nonprofits, housing authority, faith-based organizations, planners, City board members, and others.
The program aims to:
Identify issues and needs, available resources and partners, and potential obstacles that need to be addressed
Develop creative ideas about meeting housing needs and enhancing community development
Learn about best practices from past participants of the program and identify available resources
Produce a GICH-driven community housing plan with goals and objectives
Begin implementation of the action plan
Past participants have undertaken initiatives including:
Target specific distressed neighborhoods for potential revitalization
Redevelop older neighborhoods
Increase code enforcement
Remove abandoned or dilapidated homes
Explore the creation of a Land Bank Authority or Community Land Trust (county and city collaboration required)
Obtain Community Development Block and Community HOME Investment Program grants to fund identified initiatives
Develop a rehabilitation program
Provide housing counseling and down payment assistance
Write and adopt an Urban Redevelopment Plan
Create a Redevelopment Authority
Canton's residential codes were updated recently. Through the assistance of the GICH community, the City will have an opportunity to reexamine codes to ensure that Canton is in sync with other cities that have successfully graduated from the GICH program.
One of the assessment tools that has been successfully implemented in GICH communities is a "windshield survey" of homes that need repairs and the development of a strategy to make those necessary repairs. Examples of issues that could be identified in a windshield survey might include cracked foundations, broken windows, rotten wood, missing siding, chipped paint, and deteriorated chimneys.
Canton's GICH team convened for a kickoff meeting in November and is planning to attend its first semiannual retreat in the spring in Cartersville, as the City begins this exciting journey. Stay tuned.