Gwinnett County, Georgia, is a rapidly growing suburban community in the northeastern portion of the Atlanta metropolitan area. Since 1970, Gwinnett has been one of the fastest growing counties in the nation. This growth has not affected all citizens equally. Gwinnett County developed its Consolidated Plan to target housing, community development, and homelessness programs to those who need additional help in achieving self-sufficiency. The plan deals with physical conditions in neighborhoods that inhibit prosperity, the natural decline of aging infrastructure, and the development of former rural farming communities into urban areas.
The county will have access to $2.4 million in Federal entitlement grants for the upcoming year, including $62,000 in Emergency Shelter Grant (ESG) funds, $2.3 million in Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) funds, and $10,000 in program income.
During the preparation of the Consolidated Plan, citizen participation was
invited to identify problems that could be addressed through the planning
process. As plan development continued, a draft plan was distributed widely
throughout the county at various public places for a thirty-day comment period.
Two public hearings were held in 1994. In coming years, a similar process will
be followed insure meaningful citizen participation. As the planning process
matures, additional methods will be employed to encourage meaningful citizen
involvement in the development of the various components of the Consolidated
In 1990 Gwinnett County had a population of 352,910. This is an increase of 111 percent over 1980. Over 89 percent of the population were white, and 11 percent were various minority groups. Between 1980 and 1990, the county's minority population increased by 186 percent. Black households, which represent 6 percent of the total population, are the largest minority group.
In 1990 the county's median family income (MFI) was $43,518, higher than the
Atlanta area MFI of $41,617. Of Gwinnett County's 127,168 households, 13,325
were very low- income (0-30 percent of MFI); 18,624 were low-income (51-80
percent of MFI); and 11,631 were moderate-income (81-95 percent of MFI).
Two-thirds of all residents earned more than 95 percent of the MFI. Almost half
of African American and Hispanic populations earned over 95 percent of the MFI
and just over half of Asian/Pacific Islander and Native American populations.
Among renters, 81 percent of very low-income, 56 percent of low-income, and 21 percent of moderate-income households had housing problems in 1990. Among homeowners, 66 percent of very low-income, 55 percent of low-income, and 42 percent of moderate-income households had housing problems. Housing problems include overcrowding, cost burdens (paying more than 30 percent of gross income for housing expenses), or units with serious physical deficiencies.
Just under half (3,285) of the total substandard units are suitable for rehabilitation. In addition, however, there are an estimated 6,000-8,000 units with potential housing code violations, which if left unrepaired, could result in the housing becoming substandard within several years. Another 4,000-6,000 units need major energy renovations to make them compatible with State energy codes. This would reduce the utility costs for the occupants as well, increasing affordability.
Estimates of Gwinnett County residents who need supportive housing include: 3,316 elderly persons, 1,138 frail elderly persons, 420 persons with severe mental or emotional disabilities, 1,114 persons with developmental disabilities, 1,456 persons with physical disabilities, 4,616 persons with alcohol or other drug addictions, and 75 persons with HIV/AIDS. The number of persons with HIV/AIDS is expected to increase each year, increasing the demand for supportive services. Currently, AID Gwinnett, Inc., is using Housing Opportunities for Persons with AIDS (HOPWA) funds to help meet this need.
Housing has become less affordable in recent years. Growth in the housing inventory has focused on the higher-end market for both homeownership and rental units. During the previous decade, the median price of a home in Gwinnett County increased by 63 percent, rising from $58,000 in 1980 to $95,000 in 1990. During that same period, the monthly median rent increased by 27 percent, rising to $483 in 1990.
In 1990 there were 137,608 year-round housing units in Gwinnett County, and 92 percent of them were occupied. Of that total, 68 percent were owner-occupied. Nearly 90 percent of all homes had three or more bedrooms. Almost half of the rental units had two bedrooms.
More than half of the housing in Gwinnett County is less than 10 years old and in good condition. Less than 2 percent of the housing units were built before 1940, while 85 percent were built after 1970. Overall, the median age of residential structures is approximately 15 years.
In 1990 the vacancy rate was more than 7 percent. The majority of the vacant housing stock had two bedrooms, followed by units with three or more bedrooms. Overall, the vacancy rate was 13 percent for rental units and 3 percent for owner-occupied units.
Decent housing is becoming less affordable for many residents because housing costs have increased rapidly in recent years. Numerous factors have pushed housing costs beyond the affordability range of most residents. These factors include: escalating land prices, higher development costs and other fees, profitable high-priced homes, and a strong demand for more expensive homes.
At least one-third of the county's households cannot afford to purchase a home. During the next 5 years, the need for affordable housing for very low-, low-, and moderate-income households is expected to become even greater. Because of high land costs and the demand for mid- to high-priced housing, affordable housing probably will not become a high priority for the for-profit housing development sector.
Of the 7,196 very low-income renter households, 80 percent were cost burdened, paying more than 30 percent of their gross income for housing expenses, while 69 percent were severely cost burdened, paying more than 50 percent for housing. Of the very low-income homeowners, 65 percent were cost burdened, while 42 percent were severely cost burdened.
Of low-income renter households, about 52 percent were cost burdened, while only 2 percent were severely cost burdened. Of low-income homeowners, 54 percent were cost burdened, while 12 percent were severely cost burdened.
Of moderate-income renter households, about 12 percent were cost burdened, while none were severely cost burdened. Of moderate-income homeowners, 41 percent were cost burdened, while only 3 percent were severely cost burdened.
Homelessness continues to increase in Gwinnett County, particularly among female-headed families. Social service agencies have indicated that a comprehensive array of services, including emergency shelter and transitional housing, is needed to move a family from homelessness and into a permanent setting. Although the nonprofit Gwinnett Housing Resource Partnership has planned to purchase 4 transitional units, additional need is present. Because none of the few religiously affiliated emergency shelters can accommodate the needs of the homeless population, additional space is rented from local budget motels at below-market rates.
Because of the nature of the problem, no statistics are available to determine the actual need for shelters. Many of the homeless have come to Gwinnett County to find jobs, but unfortunately, insufficient numbers of jobs exist to employ all such individuals. A study prepared for the Gwinnett County Coalition for Human Resources estimated that more than 3 percent of the population will require emergency financial assistance in a given year. Of these, 60 percent will need assistance once to survive their financial crisis. This study indicates that nearly 11,000 county residents require some emergency assistance.
Three public housing authorities operate 440 housing units in Gwinnett County. The Buford Housing Authority operates 186 units; the Lawrenceville Housing Authority operates 212 units; and the Norcross Housing Authority operates 42 units. The demand for low-cost housing is greater than the supply of public housing units; the waiting period for a unit varies from 3 months to 4 years.
The Lawrenceville Housing Authority has 85 units requiring rehabilitation, which will cost between $2.5 million and $3 million. Of these, 8 to 10 units require accessibility improvements to accommodate persons with disabilities. Lawrenceville does not expect to lose any units from its present inventory. The Buford Housing Authority has 112 units requiring accessibility improvements, which will cost $80,000. Buford does not expect to lose any units from its present inventory. Norcross Housing Authority does not have any rehabilitation needs.
The Georgia Housing and Finance Authority (GHFA) operates the county's Section 8 tenant- based program. Gwinnett County has 471 Section 8 certificates and vouchers, with 288 being project-based and 183 being tenant-based. The GHFA does not expect to lose any of the assisted housing inventory. The waiting period for one of these Section 8 units varies from 2 to 8 years.
The county has 140 other available assisted units. One community in Applewood uses Supportive Housing for the Elderly (Section 202) funds for 100 efficiency and one-bedroom units for elderly persons. Lilburn Terrace has 40 efficiency and one-bedroom units for physically disabled persons, while Annandale has about 100 special housing units for physically disabled persons.
Gwinnett County's 1994 Comprehensive Housing Affordability Strategy (CHAS) identified several public policies that may hinder affordable housing development. Current codes and zoning classifications do not give developers the flexibility needed to produce adequate affordable housing. Code items that have the greatest impact on housing costs include street requirements, impact fees, and minimum square footage and lot size requirements.
Federal and State regulations often set requirements that inflate the cost of local development. These regulations frequently prevent local communities from devising cost- efficient solutions for their particular affordable housing problems. Another impediment is poor cooperation between public agencies and financial institutions. Currently, the county does not have an active partnership with local lenders for community and economic development.
Other barriers include poor community awareness and insufficient homebuyer education. The county does not have a consistent policy on affordable housing. Many residents have misperceptions of affordable housing or are unaware of the county's needs. Furthermore, homebuyer education programs for first-time homebuyers are scattered and infrequent.
Gwinnett County has completed an analysis of impediments to fair housing choice. The analysis has been submitted to the Atlanta Office of the Department of Housing and Urban Development for review.
The county estimates that about 23 percent of the housing stock contains lead-based paint, with contamination of nearly 1,650 units built before 1940, almost 4,142 units built between 1940 and 1959, and 25,400 units built between 1960 and 1979. A majority of the units with lead-based paint are occupied by very low- and low-income households.
The county will assess its neighborhoods in the upcoming year to pinpoint the incidence of lead-based paint. To improve its ability to test homes and screen children, the county will seek additional funding from various programs, such as the Federal Lead-Based Paint Hazard Reduction Grant program. As soon as more information can be gathered, the county will develop a long-range plan for lead-hazard abatement.
The plan contains a lengthy list of public facility, public infrastructure, and public services needs. Major facility needs include senior centers, youth centers, child care centers, parks, health centers, multi-purpose community/human service centers, special facilities for persons with AIDS, and a center to serve persons with disabilities. Community infrastructure needs (streets, sidewalks, and sewers) in areas with concentrations of very low- and low- income persons were identified in neighborhoods in the cities of Sugar Hill, Norcross, Dacula, Lawrenceville, and Buford. Public services needs were detailed to include the need for 20 vans for 7 different agencies, a fair housing counseling program, tenant-landlord counseling, and child care services. Accessibility improvements costing nearly $4 million were identified as needing attention.
During the development of the Consolidated Plan, the county consulted with
adjacent governments, various public and private health and social services, and
The county has identified the following objectives that will be addressed during the next 3 to 5 years:
Gwinnett County has identified the following housing priorities:
The county has identified the following economic development objectives:
The county has identified the following public facility objectives:
The county has identified the following public services objectives:
Gwinnett County emphasizes the need to reduce the number of families and individuals living below the poverty level, primarily by finding or upgrading employment for low-income persons. The county will work with the Chamber of Commerce to attract new businesses and industries. Gwinnett County will examine its job market to identify job classifications that offer higher wages, focusing on entry-level and moderate-skill jobs, which are readily accessible to low-income persons with job training. The county also will work with local human service organizations and job development agencies to increase the variety and quality of job training programs.
The county will help local human service organizations to improve their referral services for low-income clients seeking assistance. This goal will be accomplished by providing more information about resources and by improving communication among organizations. The county will help local organizations to access Federal, State, and private resources that can provide vitally needed services, such as food, shelter, and transportation. The county also will increase the availability of affordable housing for low-income families by renovating substandard rental units, developing additional new housing units, and increasing housing opportunities for first-time homebuyers.
The county will have access to resources from Federal programs, such as CDBG, ESG, and Section 8. In addition, the county will draw from State programs, such as the Georgia Housing Trust Fund for the Homeless, which provides awards to eligible nonprofit organizations.
One important private resource is the Atlanta Mortgage Consortium, which can leverage $20 million in permanent financing. Through this program, local financial institutions have provided low- and moderate-income families throughout the Atlanta metropolitan area with more than 400 loans for the purchase of new or existing principal residences.
The Community Development and Planning Office maintains existing affordable housing for county residents. The local housing authorities operate public housing for Buford, Norcross, Lawrenceville, and surrounding communities in the county. Supportive services are provided by the State Department of Family and Children's Services, the Health Department, the Department of Labor, and the Federal Emergency Management Agency Emergency Food and Shelter Program. Gwinnett County also has a few private and nonprofit organizations that respond to the housing needs of the homeless as well as very low-, low-, and moderate- income households.
The delivery of services to Gwinnett County residents must be improved.
Critical needs include: stronger planning and coordination systems, additional
funding for public housing improvements, increased Section 8 rental assistance,
and greater community support for affordable housing rehabilitation and
The county will have access to $2.4 million in entitlement grants. Projects planned for the year are:
MAP 2 depicts points of interest and low-moderate income areas.
MAP 3 depicts points of interest, low-moderate income areas, and minority concentration levels.
MAP 4 depicts points of interest, low-moderate income areas, and unemployment levels.
MAP 5 depicts points of interest, low-moderate income areas, unemployment levels, and proposed HUD funded projects.
MAP 6 is a map, sectioned by neighborhood, which depicts points of interest, low-moderate income areas, unemployment levels, and proposed HUD funded projects.
MAP 7 depicts points of interest, low-moderate income areas, unemployment levels, and proposed HUD funded projects within one of the four neighborhoods indicated in MAP 6.
MAP 8 depicts points of interest, low-moderate income areas, unemployment levels, and proposed HUD funded projects within another of the four neighborhoods indicated in MAP 6.
MAP 9 depicts points of interest, low-moderate income areas, unemployment levels, and proposed HUD funded project(s) from a street level vantage point; in addition, a table provides information about the project(s).
Ms. Lowayne Craig
Gwinnett County Department of Financial Services
75 Langley Drive
Lawrenceville, Georgia 30245-6900
Gwinnett County CDBG Program Management Firm
575 Old Norcross Road, Suite A
PO Box 1750
Lawrenceville, Georgia 30246