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The city of Perry was selected for the Georgia Initiative for Community Housing.

It's one of five cities chosen to participate in the three year technical assistance program offered through the University of Georgia.

"We want to focus on housing conditions, blight, and downtown residential areas." explains Mary Beth Bass, Perry's Economic Development Coordinator.

She says that's why the city applied for the program aimed at improving the quality of life in the city and boosting economic conditions. They've created a housing team and with help from the initiative they hope to come up with a new housing program.

"You work with those teams of experts for three years to address whatever you define as a community are your housing challenges." says Bass.

She says one of the biggest issues facing the city is housing conditions. "In 2008 the city worked with the regional commission to have a housing assessment done, and four of our neighborhoods were targeted as in critical condition in terms of their housing."

Their housing team is made up of fifteen community organizations including business owners, bankers and the Perry Housing Authority. James Joyner, Executive Director for Perry's Housing Authority, is a member of the team.
He says, "The purpose is to try to develop and improve housing in the city of Perry."

Joyner along with the other members of the team will gain instruction from the initiative to help design and implement a housing program. "Better housing draws more industry ." says Joyner.

He hopes that it will bring more homes for the housing authority, because they're at capacity now. "We usually run anywhere from 90 percent to 100 percent capacity." says Joyner.

The team will attend several retreats throughout the year with other cities in the program.

Bass says, "You learn from other communities that are struggling with the same issues that you are and how they implemented certain things and what challenges they faced."

They plan to dive into their new program in January.

Albany, Douglasville, Porterdale and Rincon were also chosen for the 2014 class for the Georgia Initiative for Community Housing. Warner Robins, Macon and Hawkinsville have been accepted into the program in the past.

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