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Economic Development

FEATURE: City of Savannah Takes Next Steps in ‘Savannah Shines’ Initiative; Mayor DeLoach Tears Down Blighted Home

Category: Economic Development

PHOTO:  Mayor Eddie DeLoach (right) with some of Savannah youth who are part of the city’s WorkSource Coastal’s YouthBuild Savannah program. 

Savannah Business Journal Special Report

April 11, 2018 - City of Savannah Mayor Eddie DeLoach took the first swipe today in tearing down a blighted home in the Edgemere-Sackville neighborhood, after touting the impact the City’s ‘Savannah Shines’ initiative that has been launched in that area. 

Savannah Shines was launched last August in Edgemere-Sackville to coordinate neighborhood revitalization in four areas: Private Property, Public Property, Public Safety and Community Engagement. In those eight months, the Savannah Shines revitalization program has coordinated with local partners to achieve a number of initiatives, according to the city, including:

·        Improved 42 home and rental properties

·        Begin construction on five new homes

·        Held two neighborhood cleanup days

·        Provided tree trimming

·        Acquire an additional lot next to space planned for a future playground in Edgemere-Sackville

The home that was demolished is located at 1116 E. 55th St., a dilapidated and vacant home that was an eyesore for the community, according to Cynthia Hopson, president of the neighborhood association. A number of neighborhood residents joined Hopson and the Mayor to watch the house come down.

Edgemere-Sackville was selected as the first Savannah Shines partnership based on the City’s “Sunshine Index”.  The “Sunshine Index” uses specific criteria to rate Savannah’s neighborhoods.  The criteria includes:  the existence of an establish neighborhood association; the number of housing code violations; property code violations; delinquent property taxes; and crime data. 

The Savannah Shines initiative also aligns with the City’s Savannah ‘Forward’ strategic plan, developed in 2017, focusing on Neighborhood Revitalization, Economic Strength & Poverty Reduction and Public Safety.

According to Deloach, “This is what I always dreamed to do. Taking a blighted house and building a new house in its place. There is nobody in the world who wants to live next to a place like that.”

The partners involved in making this demolition and construction possible include the City of Savannah, Savannah-Chatham Land Bank Authority (LBA), Coastal Empire Habitat for Humanity (Habitat), WorkSource Coastal’s YouthBuild Savannah Program, Community Housing Services Agency (CHSA) and the Edgemere-Sackville neighborhood association. According to city officials.

Alderman John Hall, whose district covers the Edgemere-Sackville neighborhood, said, “We will continue to invest in Savannah Shines and its partners. It’s going to pay off. We are going to make a difference before we leave.”

The City’s Housing & Neighborhood Services Department brought the parties together, and along with CHSA and Habitat, is helping to arrange project financing. The Land Bank Authority acquired the property and is demolishing it to make way for a new infill home. The Savannah Affordable Housing Fund administered by CHSA will be used to help finance construction of the new home.

Habitat will utilize the YouthBuild Savannah construction training program to build much of the new house. Once constructed, Habitat will sell the house to a qualified first-time home buyer.  The youth involved in the project will receive hands-on training in construction and soft skills.

The neighborhood association, with help from WorkSource Coastal and the City’s Human Services Department, is also helping to market the YouthBuild Savannah program to young adults age 16 to 24 who live in their area, and who did not complete high school.

More information about the YouthBuild Savannah program, or to obtain an application, is available from Step Up Savannah at (912) 651-2166.

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