The plan, said Taurus Freeman, the city’s director of Planning & Development, gives the city a definitive, qualitative and quantitative analysis of Griffin’s housing weaknesses and strengths. The plan covers areas of housing affordability, homelessness, barriers to housing, fair housing and action plans to address the challenges identified.
City Commissioner Doug Hollberg questioned adopting the plan “without us coming up with some real solutions.”
Hollberg, a local landlord and rental property owner, said he’s “still collecting the same rent as 15 years ago. It does not make sense to loan owners any money.”
He questioned some of parts of the plan including a registry system for property owners.
“It’s a no-win, a lose-lose for owners, residents, renters, the city and the tax base.”
He asked that the city commissioners go over the plan in a workshop before adopting it.
City Commission Chairperson Cynthia Ward said, “this is the same plan Fred (Frederick Gardiner, former city planner) started. We can’t afford not to address it.”
City Commissioner Dick Morrow noted the city has had developers come in and propose to build tax advantaged housing, but because of the requirements of their federal funding, that cannot be done within a mile of blighted areas. “The plans drive them away,” he said.
Ward said the plan is to eliminate the blight in those areas, to clean up areas in the inner city so developers don’t run to the edges. “We have to have a plan.”
Hollberg said, “until we can figure out how to empower business owners so they can pay folks, we won’t get anywhere. I just don’t want to see another plan sit on the shelf.”
He asked, “how do we empower business people to show the plan to justify borrowing? The deterioration will continue as owners can’t invest to make repairs.”
There are now 556 blighted properties in the city, up from 374 when the city first started to address this. Last year the city demolished 36 homes or properties, Freeman said, with city budgeting “way higher than before,” City Manager Kenny Smith said.
“We are definitely moving forward on things identified in the plan,” Freeman said. “There are over 200 identified as substandard set for demolition.”
He also noted the partnership with the Land Bank Authority and Housing Authority to buy and demolish substandard housing and for the city to do the demolition for them. The authorities and the city are also going after federal funds, Freeman said, “so we’re not using local taxpayers money to do this.”