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Macon-Bibb set to approve $7.5M for affordable housing fund, blight fight

They'll also consider money to fix up two rec centers and a new contract for the emergency radio system.

MACON, Ga. — Macon-Bibb commissioners have a pretty busy schedule at their final January meeting.

The big thing on the agenda is about $7.5 million set to go toward the Macon-Bibb Affordable Housing Fund. 

The money will go to continuing the county's fight against blight. That helps the other part of the initiative, which is building more affordable housing.

"They fix it up, and then they jack the rent up so high," said Commissioner Elaine Lucas in last week's meeting.

'They' are developers Macon-Bibb Mayor Lester Miller says are taking affordable housing stock away from Maconites.

"They have increased the rent significantly," he said during the meeting.

"These people are forever renters. They never can get far enough ahead," Lucas said.

The county wants to change that with the American Rescue Plan Act money.

"One of the purposes of this board is to look into lending money for an attractive interest rates for the purpose of creating new housing units in Macon-Bibb County," Miller said.

He hopes there's more money where that came from. The plan is to effectively double it with donations and help from local banks.

"This is a real investment, and this is going to be game-changing for the community. I appreciate that this is not a nominal investment in affordable housing because it is what we as politicians are supposed to talk about at the moment," said Mayor Pro Tem Seth Clark.

The money will act as a revolving loan fund. That means if a developer is loaned money to build housing, the money they pay back with interest goes back to the pot. Mayor Miller says that should help keep the program around for years.

"It will help keep either rents or home ownership prices low so people can afford them, and it also will allow a lot of our teachers, our firefighters, our police and a lot of our public servants to afford homes in the areas they live and work in," Miller said.

He says they've already selected about 80 potential places to build. 

That includes many of the vacant lots left after demolishing blighted houses.
Commissioners will also vote on more than $875,000 over three years for an emergency radio system contract. 

After the vandalism, almost $125,000 will go toward fixing the light system at Bloomfield Gilead Athletic Complex.

 South Bibb Recreation Center also needs work after cold weather damaged some pipes. The commission will decide whether to spend $250,000 on that.

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