By Tia Lynn Ivey
The City of Madison is accepting a $300,000 Community Home Improvement Grant to bring eight to 10 houses in the Urban Redevelopment Area up to code. The Madison Mayor and City Council unanimously voted to accept the funds, giving Mayor Fred Perriman authority to sign off on future contracts to spend the money.
“This money will be used to bring houses up to safety codes,” said City Planning Director Monica Callahan. Callahan anticipated that the funds will be used over the course of the next two years in the Canaan neighborhood area.
“This will be wonderful for the neighborhood,” said Madison Mayor Fred Perriman.
The grant is part of a Georgia Initiative for Community Housing (GICH) effort to restore and revitalize struggling neighborhoods. This will be the second grant awarded to Madison. Several years ago, Madison received grant money through the program, renovating more than a dozen houses in the Canaan neighborhood.
In 2018, Callahan noted that out of the 300 homes in the Canaan area, roughly 80 show signs of deterioration, and 46 percent of residents live below the poverty line.
GICH helps homes meet standards for safety, decency and sanitation. The program is funded through a competitive grant program offered by the Georgia Department of Community Affairs.
Needy communities across the state must compete against one another for the Community Home Investment Program (CHIP) and Community Development Block Grant Program (CDBG). Applicants must own the home and be below an income threshold that is set by the federal government. They must also pay around 3 percent of the total cost. Roughly $25-35,000 was spent to repair each home with the first round of grant money.
The city won’t know the breakdown of how this grant will be spent until they decide which houses to repair, assessing each house’s needs. Applications will be available this Fall through the City of Madison.
“Madison’s GICH Team has worked very hard on neighborhood stabilization. This housing grant offers to income-qualified homeowners the opportunity to stabilize deteriorating properties in the Canaan area…Madison will see another 8-10 homes brought up to code in 2021,” said Callahan.
“The GICH Team is overwhelmingly grateful for the financial support of the First United Methodist Church, whose participation makes our housing applications more competitive,” added Callahan. “This grant is home ownership-oriented. Since land and construction costs for single-family are cost-prohibitive, most housing providers are relegated to multi-family developments to provide workforce, affordable, and rental housing.
Thus, GICH’s goal is the retention of every viable single-family affordable housing unit in our small community and CHIP is helping to bring those units up to basic sanitary and code conditions. The GICH Team’s efforts started about six years ago and about 80 homes were identified as potentially vacant, substandard, or dilapidated in an area with 350 homes.
Public engagement, matching grants, non-profit investment, and private construction have made a tremendous progress in neighborhood stabilization.
After implementation of these CHIP funds, only about a dozen houses from the original assessment remain to be addressed. “