When most people think of a housing authority, government-funded rental units for no-income and low-income families come to mind. However, housing programs have evolved to include housing development and support for various housing needs. The Hinesville Housing Authority has adapted to these changes by providing resident services that promote homeownership.
All of the hard work is paying off as several Liberty County families now have a home of their own thanks to the work of the Hinesville Housing Authority and its partners. Regency Park resident Lisa Bennett purchased her first home just in time for the holidays. She credits her ability to purchase a home to the programs offered by Hineshouse Property Management & Maintenance Services, the leasing agency for Hinesville Housing Authority.
“The staff at Regency Park Apartments in Hinesville, Georgia helped me with more than just affordable housing, but played a valuable part in providing programs to help with my children, and achieving my goals and dreams,” Bennett said. “They offered programs that I took advantage of from helping with resume building, job fairs, money management and educational outlets where it played a major part in me achieving a Dual Masters degree in Human Resource Management and Leadership Management, getting a decent paying job and ultimately owning my very own first home. I am so thankful and blessed that God put people in my life to help guide me in the right direction.”
These types of success stories motivate the Hinesville Housing Authority board of commissioners to continue creating partnerships that provide innovative housing solutions. In 2018, the Liberty County Community Housing Development Organization (LCCHDO) was created to provide financial services, housing development and funding opportunities for Liberty County residents seeking sustainable housing solutions. The first project was a partnership with the City of Riceboro to develop Chatman Homes.
“Affordable housing should be accessible to everyone,” said Paul Johnson, Chairman of LCCHDO. “As the demand continues to increase, we are looking for more ways to help people access affordable housing in the area.”
Chatman Homes currently consists of two, single-family homes funded by the Community HOME Investment Program (CHIP). CHIP is a grant provided by the Georgia Department of Community Affairs to help Georgia cities build and renovate affordable single-family homes. Chatman Homes is the first housing subdivision within the city limits of Riceboro. For now, the project consists of two homes.
“Riceboro is a great place for families to live and enjoy coastal Georgia so we will continue to do our part in making sure that people have affordable housing in our community,” said Joseph Harris, Mayor of the City of Riceboro. “Riceboro is definitely open for business and future development; this is only the beginning.”
Recently, one of the homes was sold to a first-time homebuyer. Shelby Webb was living in Richmond Hill and working in Savannah when she began her house search. She said that she couldn’t find affordable homes in those areas so she expanded her search to the Liberty County area.
“I saw the posting on Zillow,” Webb said. “I had never considered Riceboro and didn’t know much about it but when I visited the home everything about it was perfect and it had a lot of things I didn’t even know I wanted.”
She continued to explain that this home purchase was a nice reward after the rough year she had with personal challenges to include surviving COVID-19.
“This is the light at the end of the tunnel,” Webb says.
She encourages others looking to buy a home to be patient and trust their realtor. She says she is thankful for everyone involved in the process who made it better than she thought was possible.
“I’m grateful for the awesome partnerships with forward-thinking leaders such as City of Riceboro, LCCHDO and Georgia DCA,” said Melanie C. Thompson, CEO of the Hinesville Housing Authority. “It is exciting to work with communities who are truly committed to housing for everyone. We look forward to more projects to create housing opportunities for renters, first-time buyers, seniors, industry workers and really anyone that needs a home.”