NW Georgia Housing Authority discusses new housing project behind mall

Melvin Scott, standing, Housing Director for the Northwest Georgia Housing Authority, speaks to members of the authority, including Lillie Dyar, seated. (Doug Walker, RN-T)

The Northwest Georgia Housing Authority is working with a Texas developer on a project to bring affordable housing to a large tract behind Mount Berry Mall. The 19.9 acre parcel was purchased by Pinnacle Housing Partners of Temple, Texas, from the original developers of the mall, the Crown American Corp., for $900,000 in 2002.

Executive Director Sandra Hudson said she and Melvin Scott, director of housing, had been to Texas to meet with officials at Commonwealth Multifamily Housing Corp. about the project.

They have started talking with bond attorneys and they do have some plans drawn up, Hudson told the housing authority board of directors Wednesday morning.

"They have done a market study, it showed there is a need for affordable housing here in Rome," Hudson said.

The project would involve apartment units and include as many as 200 units, built in two phases with 100 units in each phase.

"It’s in discussions, but we’re talking about the housing authority being co-developer to build the units and manage the units,” Hudson said.

Scott said some of the units would be fair market rent-based while some could be Section 8, units where renters would pay a percentage of their income.

"It’s still very much in the planning stage," Scott said. "They’re looking to lock down finances and particulars this year so we can move forward next year with construction."

The Rome News-Tribune was not able to reach anyone at Commonwealth Multifamily for comment Wednesday.

NWGHA Finance Director Tammy Morrow said the authority is taking steps to mitigate the loss of 11 percent of its federal subsidy from the Department of Housing and Urban Development, a hit of about $300,000.

She warned that the cut next year could go up to 18 percent, and the authority could lose additional capital funds if it fails to register as a "High-Performing" housing agency for a second consecutive year.

Hudson blames the poor score this year, which she is appealing, to a decision by HUD to count vacant units that are being converted from public housing to rental assistance housing against federally mandated occupancy rates.

“We have a lot of units off-line and that were not supposed to be held against us, but they were," Hudson said.

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