Albany gets $250,000 grant for housing project - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Albany gets $250,000 grant for housing project

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By Karen Cohilas - bio | email

ALBANY, GA (WALB) - The city of Albany is getting a $250,000 grant to transform a West Albany housing project.  It's part of the department of Housing and Urban Development's Choice Neighborhoods Initiative.

The goal is to transform distressed neighborhoods into places with affordable housing, safe streets and good schools. 

McIntosh homes is a public housing project that has been plagued with high crime, broken families and poverty.  HUD wants to change that and is equipping the housing authority with a planning grant to help make it happen.

Mark Burris lives near McIntosh homes, but says these housing units are no longer suitable homes for anything other than pests.  He said, "It's infected with roaches.  They spray the roaches and it looks like they get healthier."

He's excited to know that a plan of action is being put in place to change this neighborhood.  He said, "I think it's wonderful. They need to make an improvement, because just look at it, look at how filthy it is."

But clean up should soon be underway.  The $250,000 grant will allow the Albany Housing Authority and partners to create a comprehensive road map to transform the housing units in this distressed neighborhood.

Frank Wilson said, "What it's going to do is allow us to go into the McIntosh area and really improve the quality of life for citizens."

Wilson is the chairman of the Housing Authority board.  He says changing this neighborhood will change the people who live there in a good way.

He said, "A child's mind is like fresh cement whatever falls on it leaves an impression and so I think the important thing that this grant and the opportunities that come with this grant will make a tremendous difference."

HUD Regional Administrator Ed Jennings, Jr. says it's time communities begin to rally around the less fortunate and help shape their futures.

"Historically," he said, "we have found that by zip code, you can almost predetermine the life expectancy, the healthcare opportunities, the criminal justice outcomes of a community."

He says this project will link housing improvements with schools, public transit and employment opportunities, and will change this area.

Jennings said, "The way it is today, a year from now will not be the same.  It's going to be a different community because we all care about the entire city and this community and we're going to make sure it's different a year, two, five and 10 years down the road."

Burris said, "I look forward to it, really."  A real change and community transformation.

119 communities applied for the Choice Neighborhoods Planning grants, but only 17 were picked as recipients.

If the planning process goes well, Albany can next apply for an implementation grant, which could bring millions of dollars to put the transformation plan into action.

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