Hinesville Housing Authority board, staff and residents met at Savannah Technical College Liberty Campus for an annual board retreat on Oct. 5-6. The two-day retreat was conducted by strategic planning consultant Skip Teaster and community housing development consultant Rocky Wade to discuss housing development.
The retreat began with Wade explaining the importance of a housing strategy that addresses affordability, availability and accessibility.
“There is an affordability problem in this community and our nation,” Wade said. “It is evident in the 1,000 people on your wait list that need housing. Some people don’t believe it, but you must disprove the assumptions with real data.”
According to a 2017 National Low Income Housing Coalition report, minimum wage workers would have to work 79 hours per week to afford the fair market rate in Liberty County. The report also revealed that a $24.19 per hour housing wage is needed to rent a 3-bedroom home in Liberty County.
For most of the retreat, attendees navigated through a community real estate development process designed by Wade. Considerations included situational analysis of preparedness for housing, housing strategy as a core business line and an action plan to move the Hinesville Housing Authority’s housing strategy forward.
“Our goal is to make sure no one is left behind when it comes to providing housing,” said Melanie Thompson, CEO of the Hinesville Housing Authority. “We need enough options to serve everyone needing housing. No, we can’t do it all at one time, but with this plan, we will address how to get it all done.”
During the final session, Teaster announced that the housing authority’s strategic plan would be completed by Dec. 18, which is a year earlier than anticipated for the three-year strategy. The plan focuses on areas such as Education, Training, and Resident Development; Organizational & Community Development; Partnership Development, Marketing and Public Relations; Real Estate Project Development and Expansion; Safety, Facility and Property Management and Maintenance & Property Management.
“You all have a huge opportunity to make a difference so take a risk and serve the people in this community who are depending on you to do the right thing,” Teaster said.
The authority plans to continue working on efforts related to the strategic themes, especially project development and expansion. Short term goals include low-to-moderate income housing. The long-term goal is to provide workforce housing.
“I’m grateful for everyone here coming out on a Friday and Saturday with this beautiful weather to learn about how we can work together to provide better housing opportunities in our communities,” said Joe Ford, chairman of the Hinesville Housing Authority Board of Commissioners. “All of this is possible because of the wonderful staff and consultants who are helping us move forward. I am sure the rest of the board will agree that we are grateful for the work that is being done as we do our best to lead everyone in the right direction.”
For more information on the Hinesville Housing Authority and upcoming projects, visit www.hinesvillehousingauthority.org.