The Georgia Ports Authority (GPA) today announced its intention to fund a major, multi-year workforce housing initiative through the City of Savannah and its partners Housing Savannah, Inc. and the Community Housing Services Agency, Inc. (CHSA).
Called "The Port of Savannah Area Workforce Housing Initiative" officials say it is designed to improve quality of life and housing for individuals living in near-port communities through the repair, construction, and purchase of affordable and workforce housing that benefits low- and moderate-income homeowners, first time homebuyers, and renters.
Officials said the initiative will focus on housing improvements for residents of neighborhoods north of Ogeechee Rd. and west of Martin Luther King, Jr. Blvd., including Brickyard, Carver Village, Cloverdale, Cuyler-Brownville, Hudson Hill, Ogeecheeton, Tremont Park, West Savannah, and Woodville.
Officials added the initiative will prioritize home repairs for existing neighborhood residents and homeowners and will also support eligible applicants with down payment assistance for first time home purchases in the Savannah area, including Garden City, Port Wentworth, and the City of Savannah.
“Savannah is growing, and the Georgia Ports Authority is proud to be a part of that growth, and is proud to be part of this Workforce Housing Initiative.” said Griff Lynch, President and CEO of Georgia Ports Authority. “These hard-working people have helped make our successes possible, and it is our duty to help them make their housing dreams attainable.”
GPA will contribute the funding to Housing Savannah, Inc., a nonprofit that raises private and philanthropic donations for the Savannah Affordable Housing Fund (SAHF).
According to a release, in recent years, the City of Savannah has allocated more than $10 million dollars to the SAHF, with plans to contribute several million dollars more each year in accordance with the Housing Savannah Action Plan, which was adopted by City Council in 2021.
“The City of Savannah is proud to partner with Georgia Ports Authority on this unique investment,” Mayor Van R. Johnson II said. “Since its inception, the Housing Savannah Task Force, Housing Savannah Action Plan, and now, a non-governmental organization is making a major impact on our community.
“We are excited to see this initiative grow with the help of our new partners, and we are grateful to GPA for stepping up with this major contribution,” Mayor Johnson continued. “The Port of Savannah Area Workforce Housing Initiative will undoubtedly improve the lives of West Savannah citizens.”
The SAHF, created by the city in 2011 and administered by CHSA, is used to leverage additional investments to support the development, preservation, and protection of affordable and workforce housing. At $6 million, GPA’s pledged contribution represents the single largest outside contribution to the Savannah Affordable Housing Fund in its history.
“We are thrilled about this new, innovative partnership to preserve, protect and develop affordable and workforce housing in our near-port communities,” City Manager Jay Melder said. “The Georgia Ports Authority has long been an economic driver for Savannah, and with this new partnership GPA will now be a driving force to solving the most pressing issue we are facing as a community: housing affordability and availability. Most importantly, these investments will be prioritized for current residents of our new-port communities, helping to repair and retain quality housing in these important and historic neighborhoods.”
“The commitment from the Georgia Ports Authority to invest in our community is truly significant,” Laura Lane McKinnon, Executive Director of Housing Savannah said. “This investment will help Housing Savannah, CHSA, and the City of Savannah to meaningfully accelerate the pace and volume of affordable and workforce housing being built and preserved in our area.
“Housing is fundamental to the health, prosperity, and identity of a community,” Director McKinnon continued. “With this investment, Georgia Ports Authority is taking bold action to make our community healthier, stronger, and more vibrant.”
GPA intends to make this investment in annual installments of $750,000 each year for at-least eight years, totaling $6 million. In just its first year, The GPA funded Port of Savannah Area Workforce Housing Initiative is expected to leverage an additional $3 million in available capital, which will pay for more than 70 low- and moderate-income households improve their housing or purchase new homes.