The Griffin Housing Authority is transitioning Fairmont Homes out of public housing.
Bob Dull, chief executive officer of the Housing Authority, provided an update on the project to the Educational Prosperity Initiative Thursday, saying there will be $16.7 million spent in a public/private partnership to rehabilitate Fairmont Homes and Nine Oaks. Doing it this way, he said, allows the Housing Authority to leverage the property, and get work done a lot quicker than waiting for federal housing funds, which may or may not ever come.
Dull said the “facelift,” with both exterior and interior work on the units, is projected to take about 11 months, and will be done in phases. Residents will be temporarily relocated to units at the Oaks at Park Pointe during the work, with about 35 families at a time being relocated.
Dull said the relocation would “begin between the end of this month and the end of the year.”
“This would be different than what we did with Meriwether Homes,” Dull said, where residents were given vouchers and had to reapply to move back to the Oaks at Park Pointe. He said with Fairmont and Nine Oaks, residents will be temporarily moved to open units, or could stay with family, if they choose, and would “continue to pay the same monthly rent,” getting the same in rent subsidies.
They will be moved back when the work is done, with moving expenses included, Dull said. Both of the sites will remain subsidized housing.
He said the Housing Authority is working with the Griffin-Spalding County School System to limit the disruptions and keep transportation to the same schools for the students, who he said are mostly from Moore Elementary and Kennedy Road Middle schools.
Dull said resident services will write a plan for each family.
“We’re trying to lessen the impact,” Dull said. “We’ve invested a lot of money in the kids at Fairmont.”
The transition for the Housing Authority, he said, is a move from public housing “to a project-based residence fund, which allows for a more steady source of income, not relying on what may or may not come from Congress.”
He said that funding can increase or decrease from year to year.
The effort at Fairmont Homes is coupled with the city and county efforts to revitalize the area, Dull said, noting the SPLOST-funded projects at Fairmont Park and Heritage Park, as well as the efforts to combat blighted and substandard housing.
He said a windshield survey of housing, where people were taking pictures from the outside, has provided a snapshot of 9,800 dwellings in Griffin.
“We have a lot of substandard housing in Griffin and Spalding County,” Dull said. “This is a recognition that substandard housing is not acceptable.”
“It’s time we talk about the facts, it’s time we recognize and expose it for the purpose that we need more dollars to do something about it,” Dull said.
He said the survey is part of the city’s effort to be certified as a Planned First city, which qualifies it for more grants and funding.
“They only provide funding to cities that care, and we’ve got it for the past three years,” Dull said.
HUD (Housing and Urban Development), he said, is pushing “further affirming fair housing plans” and the survey and the revitalization efforts so far have put Griffin ahead in that.
The transition at Fairmont Homes and Nine Oaks, along with the work done at the former Meriwether Homes, totals about $63 million that has be leveraged in public and private partnership. There are two buildings going up on Meriwether, Dull said, “a senior building at the Oaks, behind the Police Department, and another senior building, right on the ninth hole of the golf course at City Park.”
- By Ray Lightner, Griffin Daily News August 4