Clayton County Wins 2011 County Excellence Award for NSP Program Success

From GeorgiaTrend.com

Stories by Ed Lightsey and Don Sadler 

There’s always room for good ideas and good execution of those ideas in county government, but it becomes essential in a tough economy. The six winners of this year’s County Excellence Awards – Clayton, Cobb, Dawson, Glynn, Oconee and Sumter – have found ways to improve efficiency, add recreational facilities and protect their citizens.

For the sixth year, the Association County Commission-ers of Georgia (ACCG) and Georgia Trend have teamed up to recognize good ideas put into action. Winners are determined by an independent panel of judges convened by ACCG.

“Counties that are recognized with County Excellence Awards have developed innovative programs to improve quality, efficiency and other aspect of programs and services,” says Ross King, ACCG executive director. “Like businesses, counties must continue to look for ways to make improvements.”

This year’s winning projects include training future community leaders, enhancing neighborhood safety, using technology for emergency preparedness, creating a park, providing a safe way to dispose of medicines and establishing a fire department. You can read the stories in the next pages.

Clayton County
Neighborhood Stabilization

The foreclosure crisis has impacted virtually every county in the state, but some have been hit harder than others. As one of the areas in Georgia most affected, Clayton County received a $9.7-million grant in federal Neigh-borhood Stabilization Program (NSP) funds from HUD in 2009 to help combat the effects of the crisis in local neighborhoods.

While certainly welcome, these funds were little more than “a drop in the proverbial bucket, given the tremendous needs in the county,” says Mickie Williams, manager of the NSP for the Clayton County Housing and Community Development department. “It was clear that a more holistic approach needed to be utilized in order to have a measurable impact on the problem.”

At the national level, NSP was rolled out with specific objectives, but there were very few details about how the program should be operated at the local level. So the challenge for the Clayton County NSP team was how to best leverage the funds to address both short- and long-term local needs in an environment where the rules were still being written at the national level.

The Clayton County NSP Project Office was formed in the fall of 2009 to focus exclusively on this effort. A little over a year later, it’s clear that the county got an amazing amount of bang out of the relatively limited funds that were granted. “This program not only provided assistance to combat the effects of the foreclosure crisis in our county, but it also helped stimulate our local economy,” notes Clayton County Commission Chairman Eldrin Bell.

The county developed a process that resulted in the rehabilitation of 115 homes in eight neighborhoods in just over eight months. It produced 36 new homeowner families and placed another 22 homes under contract, and is aggressively marketing the remaining 57 homes to owner occupants. “We met and exceeded all of HUD’s requirements before the due date and were awarded an additional $3.8 million for NSP3, which was the third largest award for any county in Georgia,” says Bell.

The program has also generated more than 1,300 new work opportunities in Clayton County and injected more than $68 million in stimulus funding into the local economy. In addition, the county was able to offer financial incentives of up to $20,000 for targeted homebuyers. “One of the most gratifying indicators of success has been the positive feedback we’ve received from existing homeowners in the neighborhoods where we’re working,” says Williams.

“We believe that our NSP program can serve as a successful model that can help significantly relieve the deleterious impact of housing foreclosures on the economic and social well-being of other counties in Georgia,” adds Bell.

Read about other County award winners at the Georgia Trend website:

http://www.georgiatrend.com/features-business-industry/03_11_counties.shtml

One Response to “Clayton County Wins 2011 County Excellence Award for NSP Program Success”

  1. Clayton Connection Says:

    This is a great post! It’s nice to hear things are looking up for Clayton County. The NSP program appears to have had a positive impact.

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