Tiny Houses, Big Awards and More: Fall Conference 2019

This year’s Fall Conference returned to Great Wolf Lodge, and more than 300 attendees were able to engage with fellow professionals from across the state. From Broadband to volunteerism and housing and more, conference presenters shared essential information in more than 40 sessions.

Concurrent sessions focused on a variety of topics for those in attendance which included elected officials, city planners and others focused on community development. Session titles included “Housing Tax Credit 101,” “Homeless in Georgia: Issues & Solutions,” “Zones, Zones & More Zones,” and “Recovering from Natural Disasters.” The full list is here.

Will Johnston, executive director of the MicroLife Institute, was on site with a tiny house (269 square feet) for attendees to learn about and view. He said, “There is a stigma around small spaces, but we need to look at housing differently. Education is key. We see this as affordable and attainable.”

Attendees were also able to participate in two off-site tours. The first was KIA Motors Manufacturing Georgia in West Point. There, they learned about the history of the site, its impact in the region, and job creation. The second opportunity was Tucker Cottages, a development of 50 single-family rental homes specifically for senior citizens.

The conference was also a celebration of success as dozens of communities were honored. Union City Mayor and DCA Board Member Vince Williams welcomed the hundreds of people in attendance by saying, “Let’s celebrate each other and make sure our communities are stronger and better.”

DCA Commissioner Christopher Nunn also addressed the crowd and highlighted Bainbridge, Oglethorpe County and Hawkinsville as examples of communities that collaborated with DCA in order to enhance the lives of its present and future residents.

“Consider what type of future we aim to create,” he said. “We stand on the shoulders of those who came before us, and we are accountable for future generations.”

Community designations included Broadband Ready, Georgia Exceptional Main Street (GEMS), Georgia Initiative for Community Housing (GICH), PlanFirst, and RURAL Zones. Financial awards - which will fund community improvements – included Appalachian Regional Commission, Community Development Block Grants, Community HOME Investment Program, Employment Incentive Program, Equity, and Emergency Solutions Grants.