By Maria Jose Subiria
The Housing Authority of Clayton County has hired a veteran Realtor to help battle area housing troubles as the program coordinator for its Foreclosure Resource Center.
David Barton, the president-elect of the 1,000-member Metro South Association of Realtors and a volunteer with the center since its inception, was tapped to help organize initiatives aimed at reducing the county's foreclosure rate.
Clayton County's foreclosure rate, according to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, is 9.9 percent, almost double the state's foreclosure rate, of 5.2 percent.
"There was a need for a position for putting policies together, and overseeing programs that were being implemented," Barton said. "Since I was working in the committee, I realized this is already what I do."
Housing Authority officials said they wanted someone with experience in the real estate business to assist in the rehabilitation of foreclosed homes, and Barton was their choice.
"He came to us with a real estate background, and has been involved as a volunteer," said Linda Valentine, executive director of the Housing Authority of Clayton County. "He had an idea of what we had to do, and where we were going."
Barton, who has been on the job for three weeks, is working on policies and programs designed to remodel foreclosed homes, and assist prospective buyers interested in purchasing them.
For Barton, it is important that once residents purchase homes, they are involved in their neighborhoods in some way. He says he would like to start a Home Owner Partner Program in an effort to keep neighborhoods from depreciating in value.
Under the program, which would still have to be approved by the Housing Authority, those taking advantage of Foreclosure Resource Center help in purchasing a home would attend classes on neighborhood upkeep, and engage in volunteer work.
"I think it will restore the old feelings of the community, and stabilize neighborhoods by having people, who have transitioned from renters to owners, attend classes," Barton said.
Barton, who has been a member of the Metro South Realtors Association for 12 years, received the J.L. Christian Memorial Award for Ethical Behavior and Realtor Conduct, and was the association's Realtor of the Year for 2008.
He ran for the District 9 Clayton County Board of Education seat in 2006.
He said he envisions a future in which the people of "Clayton County will have a sense of pride in themselves, and in their county, by being true homeowners."