By Maria Jose Subiria
An agency focused on rehabilitating homes for low-income Clayton County residents is extending its reach to help other organizations.
The Housing Authority of Clayton County, through its Alternative Housing Funding Program grant, has repaired a portion of the roof of the children's shelter at Rainbow House, and removed a septic tank to install a sewer line at Clayton Center Behavioral Health Services.
According to Linda Valentine, executive director of the Housing Authority of Clayton County, the grant program was re-started this fiscal year after a three-year hiatus brought on by a lack of funding. She said the program first began in 1999. In a news release, the Authority said the grants are distributed to area agencies which have housing-related missions similar to that of the Authority.
While Rainbow House and the Clayton Center applied for Housing Authority grant funding, Authority officials said they used the opportunity to take matters into their own hands by hiring contractors and overseeing the projects at the facilities directly.
"It's the first year we've been hands-on," said Valentine.
Clayton Center Behavioral Health Services, at 8132 Kendrick Road, Jonesboro, serves people who have mental illnesses, addictive diseases and developmental disabilities. The septic tank at the facility had been a problem for three to four years, according to Vernon Woodall, facility manager. He said the sewer work at the Clayton Center wrapped up about two weeks ago.
"We've been able to use the ... bathroom without worrying about the waste being in the yard," he said.
Valentine said the Housing Authority brought in a contractor, and county agencies, to help with the work.
"It needed to be converted from septic to sewer," Valentine said. "We worked in collaboration with the Clayton County Water Authority, and the Clayton County Building and Maintenance" department.
"There probably wouldn't have been enough funding if the county wouldn't have been involved," said Valentine.
Rainbow House, which offers temporary shelter for children referred by the Department of Family and Children Services, sought assistance from the Housing Authority because of roofing problems.
The Authority offered to handle the rehabilitation project itself by using an approved contractor, according to Chris Wood, spokesperson for the Housing Authority of Clayton County.
Maresha Williams, business office operations manager for Rainbow House, said the repairs began in early January, and lasted less than five days.
"The contractors came out before they got started to tell us what to expect, and they finished the job in just a few days," said Williams. "They were courteous, helpful and a pleasure to work with. They were very positive representatives of the Housing Authority of Clayton County."
Three other area organizations were awarded grants through the Alternative Housing Funding Program last fall. The Calvary Refuge Center, and the Clayton County Community Services Authority, were each granted $25,000. The Southern Crescent Habitat for Humanity received $20,000, according to Wood.