Partners (Winter 2000)

Gwinnett Housing Resource Partnership
By Courtney Dufries

Every now and then, our Community Affairs team encounters a nonprofit organization that provides exceptional service to low- and moderate-income populations. On occasion, we are pleased to feature examples of these organizations in our Partners newsletter. The following article presents an example of one of the many nonprofit organizations whose staff and expertise provide best practices we can all appreciate.

Gwinnett County, Georgia, continues to experience an incredible population boom, with the Census Bureau estimating that well over half a million people had settled into the area by the middle of 1999. This 55% increase over the past 10 years has transformed the county from a bedroom community providing homes for Atlanta’s metropolitan economy, to it’s own vibrant community where over half the people who live there, work there. Of course, with growth this rapid, problems will arise.

Fortunately, since it's founding in 1993, the Gwinnett Housing Resource Partnership (GHRP) has grown with the community and now provides an array of housing services for Gwinnett’s low- and moderate-income populations.

Beginning with an initial $25,000 grant in 1993, GHRP’s annual budget now exceeds $2 million and reflects a wide range of programs and services. The numbers are staggering, as GHRP provided direct or indirect services to nearly 100,000 people last year. A review of just a few of the 1999 statistics reveals that 507 people received emergency shelter; 266 people were kept off the homeless rolls; 874 received housing counseling; 28,080 received affordable housing referrals and information; 8000 received community education; and 99 people attended Spanish homebuyer classes.

Marina Peed & Jim Beaty of GHRP
GHRP administers 12 unique programs. These programs cover a wide range of needs, including emergency shelter; homeless prevention; transitional housing; rental properties; downpayment assistance; Individual Development Accounts (IDAs); homeowner and homebuyer edcation programs; and housing counseling and referrals, to name but a few. GHRP also works hard to leverage resources with the private sector. For example, the emergency shelter program provides homeless families, seniors, and disabled persons safe rooms through partnerships with local hotels.

In 1995, the nonprofit completed an extensive renovation of Bradford Gwinnett Apartments, a 196-unit affordable housing complex it owns that provides affordable rental housing for families and seniors. GHRP also owns and manages 12 units for transitional housing to help homeless families transition to self-sufficiency. In 1998, the nonprofit developed the expertise to change from using a contracted property management company to creating an in-house asset management department. Seven staff manage and maintain GHRP’s 214 housing units. The change helped improve conditions on the property and strengthen relationships with the residents and the surrounding community.

In 1996, the United Way of Metropolitan Atlanta sponsored an IDA program with the nonprofit, and two years later, the first IDA participant purchased a home. IDAs provide matching funds for low- and moderate-income homebuyers. In this case, working through the GHRP, United Way matches $4 for every $1 the homebuyer saves. GHRP provides 10 classes on money management, financial planning, homebuyer education, and homeownership. In addition, they offer credit counseling and support to about 50 IDA program participants each year.

Success such as this does not go unnoticed. Recently, the Neighborhood Reinvestment Corporation (NRC) chartered GHRP as a “NeighborWorks® Network” affiliate, a designation reserved for 202 nonprofits active in more than 1400 communities across the nation. The NRC designation strengthens organizations by providing access to additional training, technical assistance, and funding.

For more information on this quality program, call GHRP at (770)-448-0702.


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