News & Press

The River Edge Foundation receives 10 new homes!

By JIM GAINES with The Macon Telegraph

Ten of 24 houses that have been frequent targets for vandalism will soon no longer be the city of Macon’s concern. Macon City Council voted 13-0 on Tuesday evening to turn them over to a nonprofit agency for use as low-income rentals.

The city built two dozen houses with federal funds that it couldn’t sell in the wake of the 2007 housing market collapse. Wiring and fixtures have been stolen repeatedly from many of them, costing hundreds of thousands of dollars in repairs.

Now, 10 of them will be occupied and maintained, said Wanzina Jackson, director of the city Economic and Community Development Department.

“And who’s the landlord?” asked Councilman Larry Schlesinger at the Community Resources and Development Committee meeting just before council’s meeting.

The houses are going to Georgia Behavioral Health Services, the landowning arm of River Edge Behavioral Health Center, Jackson said.

River Edge CEO Shannon Harvey said the two agencies are “joined at the hip,” sharing the same board of directors.

Under U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development regulations, the houses must remain as rental units for 20 years, and be used by low-income families, Jackson said.

Georgia Behavioral Health Services will spend $150,000 to $180,000 on repairs and new appliances, then rent the houses at low cost to eight homeless families and two River Edge staff members who make little enough to qualify, said Cass Hatcher, River Edge director of Housing Development and Facilities.

Councilwoman Elaine Lucas asked how River Edge will ensure the houses stay in good repair. Hatcher replied that the agency would do most of its own maintenance, including lawn service; and inspect the properties regularly.

Several council members praised the idea, and said they’re looking forward to a similar fate for the remaining houses.

“Ten down, 14 to go,” Schlesinger said.