Georgia Department of Community Affairs Commissioner Chris Nunn made a stop in Pembroke on Friday, where he handed out some big checks and then toured two of the city’s efforts to provide affordable housing.
Nunn, who pulled up to city hall in a small black KIA SUV, grabbed the giant cardboard checks, donned a mask and then dashed inside, where he and Mayor Judy Cook presided over “grip and grin” check presentations marking the state’s awarding of $1.35 million in grants for affordable housing and water and sewer upgrades.
The larger of the checks, representing a $750,000 Community Development Block Grant , will go to fund water and improvements. The rest, $600,000, will be used to build homes on DuBois Square.
Nunn said he’s no stranger to Pembroke, where the city in recent years has taken part in the Georgia Initiative for Community Housing and looks to state and federal funding to help fund improvements, such as the four homes in Camellia Row, which were built with Community Home Investment Program, or CHIP, grants.
Three of the homes have been sold, according to District 4 Councilwoman Tiffany Walraven, who has spearheaded the city’s GICH program, and those sales will help fund additional homes on Dubois Square, which will ultimately have 10 houses in the neighborhood. “Many smaller communities in the state don’t think of housing as an overall part of their infrastructure,” Nunn said, noting competition for such grants can be intense. The state received 120 applications for the grants and was only able to fund about 54, he added. Mayor Judy Cook said federal and state funding “has been of great benefit to the city of Pembroke. We’re a bedroom community, so we depend a lot on this funding and it’s been a great help to us.
City Administrator Alex Floyd credited the city’s water clerk, Lawquina Gilliard, who has worked for the city for 10 years, for her help with paperwork on the CDBG grant, which “I could not have filled out any part of those applications without her help,” Floyd said. “Her knowledge of the customer base and things like usage rates and all that’s in that computer that only she knows how to do … she’s done just as much as any staff member, maybe more, to make these projects a success.”