The new Liberty County Community Housing and Development Organization held a meeting Aug. 28 to elect a board of directors and determine essential next steps in their development as a new organization.
“The LCCHDO is a non-profit, community-based, service organization that intends to obtain staff with the capacity to develop affordable housing for the community with an unlimited jurisdiction,” CEO of Hinesville Housing Authority Melanie Thompson said.
The difference between HHA and LCCHDO, Thompson said, is that the HHA is a quasi-governmental agency with some jurisdictional limits. The LCCHDO; however, is a non-profit that will provide access to financial assistance to develop affordable housing, she continued.
Thompson, a current board member, presented a monthly report that highlighted some numbers of interest concerning rent and housing in Liberty County.
47.39 percent of households are experiencing overburden in the category of paying rent, Thompson said. Families or households are paying about 30 percent of their gross income and making less than almost $3,300 per month.
This data helps the board understand the importance of the organization, she emphasized, and what can come from building and advocating for affordable housing throughout Liberty County.
According to Thompson, the HHA has 211 housing units in their portfolio that serve around 992 individuals and families. However, there are 995 applicants still waiting, she said.
“Interestingly enough, the data also showed how many composite renters there are in Liberty County,” Thompson said. “It’s about 52.55 percent, so we can really see that there are a lot of people that are paying rent and they are overburdened.” Composite renters are the percent of renters in total for Liberty County that pay market rent without any assistance, she continued.
The HHA is holding a training Oct. 5-6, that will address the process of development so everyone can be educated and maintain a working knowledge of how affordable housing is developed, Thompson said. It’s an ongoing effort to create vibrant and sustainable communities.
“The LCCHDO and HHA will work together collaboratively to advocate and address the affordable housing needs of the City of Hinesville and Liberty County with community participation and support,” Thompson said. “LCCHDO will step in and fill any gaps HHA is not legally or financially able to cover.”
LCCHDO’s first meeting was held June 26. Since then, the officers have been selected and the paperwork to incorporate the organization has been sent to the state, Thompson said. Ameris Bank Mortgage Banker Gerald Lee is chairman, HHA member Joe Ford is treasurer and Liberty County Deputy Chief Appraiser Georgia Holliday is secretary.
There are two members elected to each position, so that officer’s potential absences will never affect meetings, Holliday said.
As the organization is in its initial phases, Spivey, Pope, Green & Greer, LLC attorney Scott Spivey and the elected board will work closely together to get LCCHDO established, which will allow them to begin focusing their efforts on affordable housing in and around Liberty County.
The first project slated for LCCHDO is partnering with HHA for the redevelopment and new construction of Cedar Walk, to increase the number of units to 300, which will include housing for a mixed income community property for multifamily, senior and veteran housing, Thompson added.
“These individuals will benefit as we aim to provide affordable housing for all,” she said.
Liberty County Assistant County Administrator and LCCHDO vice-chairman Bob Sprinkel had nothing but good things to say about the new organization.
“I think this will be really good for the county,” he said. “I’m glad it came to fruition.”
Next month’s meeting is at 2 p.m. Sept. 18 in the Liberty County Annex Building, Commissioner’s Meeting Room.