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Posted: March 4, 2014 10:00 p.m.

Porterdale starts three-year housing initiative

The City of Porterdale has a historic past tied to its mill, plants and mill homes.

It is looking to make part of that past its future, reusing and rehabilitating its older homes, areas of recreation and historic buildings as the community grows.

In order to do just that, Porterdale has many efforts going, including its new Main Street program, as well as the Georgia Initiative for Community Housing. The GICH is a three-year program sponsored by the Georgia Municipality Association, Georgia Power and the University of Georgia. Porterdale is among just five Georgia communities selected for this three-year cycle.

The program is designed to provide technical assistance and cross-community sharing as communities identify issues, needs and available resources, while developing new ideas about meeting local housing needs, according to a brochure on GICH published on the University of Georgia College of Family and Consumer Sciences website.

Towns will also be able to learn about best practices and gather available resources for housing and community development projects.

Randy Vinson, Covington’s planning director, who went through the GICH training with the city of Covington, is helping in Porterdale’s efforts, and said the program will help the city keep its efforts on track.

"The benefit is that by being involved in a regularly scheduled program where you have to present your efforts and accomplishments to other communities, it focuses your efforts and creates an extra incentive to accomplish significant measures regarding your goals for improving housing conditions in your community," Vinson said.

Porterdale’s plan is to increase home ownership with its existing residences.

"We’re not trying to run off (renters) but for the rents they pay they typically can buy a Porterdale house," Porterdale City Manager Bob Thompson said.

Thompson said the program worked for towns such as Warner Robins, Covington and Roswell. Roswell’s problem was different than Porterdale’s, as it is trying to find moderate-priced housing, but the Porterdale contingent was able to hear a talk on how to create such opportunities.

"We’re concentrating on rehabbing our existing housing stock," Thompson said.

The program began with a retreat Feb. 25 and 26 at the UGA Housing and Consumer Economics department, and will continue with another meeting every six months for three years. These retreats will allow Porterdale to gain knowledge on housing assessments from others who have gone through similar efforts in their cities.

"You can get a lot of good ideas from the other groups and you can learn from their mistakes as well," Vinson said.

Covington is an example of that effort, Vinson said.

"The Covington Redevelopment Authority is committed to improving the housing options in Covington."

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