First community housing fair coming to Warner Robins

chwright@macon.comOctober 2, 2013 

WARNER ROBINS -- More than 25 organizations and businesses have signed up to participate in the city’s first community housing fair.

“We were really surprised,” said Sherri Windham, director of the city’s Community Development Block Grant program. “We didn’t expect that since it’s our first year.”

Windham said the city’s Georgia Initiative for Community Housing group, which she is a part of, decided to host the fair as a two-way exchange. The city and its organizations, including the community housing initiative, can learn where the housing problems lie and resident can learn about opportunities for affordable housing and avenues to one day own a home.

“If it’s successful, we’d like to have another one,” Windham said.

The fair is Saturday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Wellston Center on Maple Street. A free hot dog lunch will be served, and an interpreter will be on hand for Spanish speakers.

“We want to include everyone” so anyone has the opportunity to own a home, Windham said. “That’s the American dream, right?”

The fair is geared toward low- to moderate-income families, Windham said, but “rich people can come, too.”

The Georgia Initiative for Community Housing group is a state initiative “to identify and rectify blighted neighborhoods,” said Alex Talley, a Warner Robins member of the group. The local initiative began in 2011 with a small group of community representatives, including some from organizations such as Habitat for Humanity and Rebuilding Together.

It helps “to provide people who live in blighted areas a reason to stay there, because they want to make the neighborhood better,” Talley said.

The group attends two retreats a year to learn about attacking blight. Windham said that’s where the idea of a housing fair developed.

“A city got up and talked about this housing fair they did,” she said. “And we looked at each other and thought it was a good idea. What a great way to get into the community.”

Windham said the planning has gone better than expected, and she is hopeful the event will be just as successful. Eventually, she said, it could become a fair for all the city’s nonprofit organizations to talk about medical, transportation and business services.

To contact writer Christina M. Wright, call 256-9685.

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