The City of Canton was recently named one of five local governments in the state selected to participate in the Georgia Initiative for Community Housing. This three-year program provides collaboration and technical assistance to help communities create and implement a locally-based plan to meet their housing needs. Along with Canton, the Cities of Chamblee, Montezuma, and Villa Rica, and Gwinnett County were selected for the program.
"Our selection as a GICH community will pave the way to hear and share best practices with other current and former GICH communities throughout the state,” said Shawn Tolan, City of Canton Councilor, Ward 2. “Our local GICH team of over a dozen community stakeholders stands ready to roll up our sleeves and get to work. Canton has a shortage of attainable/affordable housing, and with the larger GICH family's assistance and guidance, we're confident we will tackle many housing and community development issues by working together as a team. As they say, it takes a village!"
GICH helps communities improve their quality of life and economic vitality through the development of community-driven housing and revitalization strategies. This is achieved through technical assistance, collaboration, expert presenters, training, facilitation, consensus building, networking, and mentoring.
Housing Initiatives Director Ken Patton led the charge on providing a thorough application for GICH on the City’s behalf. He believes that participation in the program is critical for the City to have a successful strategy for building a housing plan.
Misti Martin, CEO and President, Cherokee Office of Economic Development, added to Patton’s sentiments. “The businesses and industries of Canton, Cherokee, and the region will benefit from this initiative. This will position us to help individuals and families live close to where they work and in housing that allows for economic mobility in the community.”
The City of Canton is a growing and diverse community in Cherokee County, seeing much of its population increase as the Atlanta metropolitan region continues to grow. The City grew by 197% between 2000 and 2010, and increased another 44% in the subsequent decade.
“While the growth has created a bustling economy, like many communities across the nation, Canton is experiencing concerning housing conditions,” said Sabrina Kirkland, Habitat for Humanity, Vice President, Development & Strategic Initiatives. “The Canton Housing Needs Assessment and Market Study found a short supply of affordable housing for low-income households within the City. Participation in the GICH program will help the City to create an action plan to address this known shortfall in a way that is community driven and grassroots oriented.”
Prior to selection for GICH, the City of Canton had already begun investing time into housing initiatives based on the City’s growth and the needs of residents. The City approved accessory dwelling units through its zoning ordinance, as well as cottage home development district regulations. A Housing Fund for the purpose of aiding affordable/workforce housing was created, and the City is also in the process of considering attainable housing options on City-owned property.
“The County applauds the City of Canton for taking the initiative to look into creative ways to partner with the Canton Housing Authority, to consider opportunities for workforce housing development, and to frame their zoning codes to best match the housing infrastructure necessary to accommodate the City's growth and needs in the community,” Geoff Morton, Cherokee County Manager, said. “We are excited for the City of Canton to share the knowledge they gain with not only the County but with our other cities to continue to make Cherokee County a great and unique place to live!”