Lack of affordable housing is hurting our community

Published 1:39 pm Thursday, June 6, 2024

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By Sarah Brown – Managing Editor

Many of us hear on a daily basis someone saying, “Why are we getting another gas station? Why won’t they bring in a good restaurant or grocery store?” Well there is an answer to this but it’s not necessarily an easy one. Any business coming into Cordele will benefit the community whether we see it or not, even if it is something we think we may not need or already have to many of. With new businesses coming in or large businesses expanding, means new employment opportunities for the city and county but, who will those employees be? Where would they live? These are the questions many of us don’t think of. These questions are key to CEOs and business owners when considering bringing in any business to Cordele. Not only that but they take into consideration the population, employment levels and poverty.

Affordable housing is the number one concern in Cordele. Tim Powers, the President of Planters First Bank and Chairman of the Cordele-Crisp Chamber of Commerce is a leader within our community who is working on this issue. From a business perspective, he has received feedback from citizens saying that they want an upper-end grocery store. He said, “We need additional workforce housing in the $150K-300K price range.” The lack of this type of housing causes a negative impact on our hospital, school system and large industry employers from being able to recruit the talent they need for job opportunities. Powers, is working with many other people in the community to address this through a Planning Rural Opportunities for Prosperity and Economic Leadership (PROPEL) program that is a 2 year partnership with the Carl Vinson Institute of Government at the University of Georgia. The programs’ primary focus is to proactively address the challenges that rural communities face that cause the economy of communities to not progress and evolve. The program follows a model of self-examination; (1) What is good in our community that we can promote, protect and celebrate? (2) What is missing in out community that we can creatively contribute?, (3) What is broken in our community that we can restore? The future plans for Cordele that they are currently working on include: (1) Workforce Housing – through grants from the Governor’s Rural Workforce Housing Initiative that will pay for infrastructure development of a new residential and/or multi-use development. (2) Downtown Revitalization (3) Youth Enrichment – ending generational poverty, improving the academic success of our children through literacy. (4) Infrastructure and land use planning – How can we make the most of our 5 exits on I-75? How can we improve the image of our community through razing blighted properties (land banks) and reducing the trash with Keep Crisp Beautiful?

Steve Gautney, the CEO of Crisp Regional speaks on recruitment and hiring of employees and he mentioned that, “It is important if we recruit people to the organization they need a place to live.” If people don’t have a place to live here then the income does not stay in the community, ultimately helps other communities versus our own. Additionally, having to hire people that live outside of Crisp County can drive costs and turn over rates within Crisp Regional. The hospital alone brings in roughly a $200 million economic impact to our county and hires over 800 people many of which do not live here due to lack of affordable work force housing.

The housing issue does not end at the lack of affordable housing; it goes into those who have housing that they can’t afford. Poverty is a significant issue in Crisp County, which we discussed with Monica Robinson who is the Executive Director of the Crisp County Community Council (CCCC).


Read more in next Wednesdays print edition and online.