No place to call home?

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By Kallie Drake, staff writer

The creation of affordable housing in Madison has moved to the forefront of the City of Madison’s long-term goals. Affordable housing has been identified as one of the top priorities by city leaders. A new city commission will receive key training next week to further the goal of bringing more affordable housing to Madison.

The Madison Housing Opportunity Commission (HOC) held its regular meeting on Thursday, Jan. 29 to discuss plans for the Georgia Initiative for Community Housing (GICH) retreat they will attend in Macon Feb. 23 and 24. The GICH is a program that assists communities in making plans to meet their own housing needs.

As a participant in this program, the Madison HOC will attend two of these retreats per year to identify housing issues locally and decide how to use available resources to meet the needs of the community. Attending the retreat from the HOC are Ashley Hunt, Dave Griffith, Jeff Miller, Judy Senft, Judy Thomas and Maureen Ronan along with other GICH committee members and staff.

The team will work at this retreat to design a housing plan for the Madison community. “Through the GICH team experience, I am sure that we will garner the knowledge of housing issues and programs to better plan for the city’s future housing needs,” said planning director and retreat attendee Monica Callahan.

The GICH program does not provide funding for housing developments, but it is designed to create and train leaders that will make positive changes to the community’s housing. The program is need-based, which works well for smaller communities like Madison, as team members will be able to centralize their efforts on prominent issues.

The retreat in Macon is part of the ongoing three-year GICH program. The program is selective with their participants, meaning Callahan has been working to form a GICH team and apply for the program since June of 2014. Callahan also noted that most communities do not get selected until their second application.

Because Madison was selected, they will join Cedartown, Liberty County, Pine Mountain and Trion as first-time attendees of the retreat. They will be able to collaborate with the other communities and learn from others that will present reports on the progress of their individual communities through the program.

“Honestly, the first GICH retreat in Macon is likely to be an eye-opener for many of us. I am looking forward to learning more about housing from experienced practitioners and other communities,” Callahan said.

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