The Georgia Department of Community Affairs was created in 1977 to serve as an advocate for local governments. Today, DCA operates a host of state and federal grant programs, serves as the state's lead agency in housing finance and development, promulgates building codes to be adopted by local governments, provides comprehensive planning, technical and research assistance to local governments, and serves as the lead agency for the state's solid waste reduction efforts.
Policy for the department is provided by an eighteen member board of directors appointed by the Governor for staggered terms. Each of Georgia 's thirteen congressional districts must be represented by one member and other members are appointed at-large. The Board also serves as Board of Directors for three related department activities: the Georgia Housing and Finance Authority (GHFA), GHFA Affordable Housing, Inc., and GHFA Economic Development, Inc.
Day-to-day management of the department is provided by the Commissioner of DCA, who is appointed by the Board of Community Affairs. The Commissioner of DCA also serves as executive director of the Georgia Housing and Finance Authority.
DCA is organized into eight divisions, as follows:
The Department is advised by several committees or councils:
Team Georgia : Delivering Community Assistance Services to Georgia 's Local Governments
Team Georgia is DCA's new, coordinated approach to delivering community assistance services. The department has reorganized its field staff to better facilitate crossing functional or divisional lines within the agency. This reorganization will help Georgia 's communities receive enhanced levels of service from DCA. Now staff from a broad range of specialties will be working together to bring a more comprehensive, holistic approach to helping Georgia cities and counties achieve their community improvement goals.
This division provides administrative support to the Department in areas including administrative operations, information technology and accounting. The Office of Administrative Operations provides fleet management, printing, and records management services. It is also responsible for the condition, maintenance and safety of the department building and property and serves as the department liaison for Regional office lease issues. The Office of Information Systems provides computer desktop technical assistance, network and server support and application development services. This office is also responsible for the maintenance and development of DCA's web sites. The Office of Accounting provides accounting, payroll and budget services for the department.
This division administers various community and economic development financing programs and provides financial packaging and technical assistance to governments and businesses. The division is made up of four offices, the Office of Community Development, the Office of Economic Development, Office of Field Services and the Office of Downtown Development.
The Office of Community Development oversees the state-administered Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) Program and the Community HOME Investment Program (CHIP). These programs assist local governments in financing a wide range of eligible activities, including, housing improvement projects, public facilities such as water and sewer lines, buildings such as local health centers or head start centers and economic development and job creation projects. All projects must substantially benefit low- and moderate-income persons.
The Office of Economic Development administers a wide variety of state and federal economic development financing programs for new and existing businesses, plus infrastructure and public facilities for local governments that will lead to the creation of local jobs. Some programs, like the Employment Incentive Program and Redevelopment Fund, are set-asides of the state's CDBG funds. Others, such as the Downtown Development Revolving Loan Fund and Appalachian Regional Commission Revolving Loan Fund provide low interest financing to eligible businesses through state funds. OED also administers the Job Tax Credit portion of the Business Expansion and Support Act and administers incentive financing programs and underwriting on behalf of the OneGeorgia Authority.
The Office of Field Services coordinates field service operations with other division offices and provides technical assistance to local governments, authorities and businesses seeking to access funding programs. OFS also monitors funded projects for compliance with applicable laws and regulations.
The Office of Downtown Development focuses on economic development through downtown revitalization, heritage preservation and restoring a sense of place. The Better Hometown Program ( Georgia 's small-town Main Street Program) and the Classic Main Street Program are self-help community development programs designed to improve a downtown's quality of life. Each designated city receives technical assistance and resources, which assist the local community in their efforts to build a stronger local economy through revitalization of the downtown area.
The Executive Division carries out Board of Community Affairs policy directives and manages agency personnel and resources. The Commissioner is selected by the Board and serves as the Department's Chief Executive Officer. The Commissioner also serves as the Executive Director of the Georgia Housing and Finance Authority. This division is also responsible for intergovernmental and legislative relations and provides general policy guidance to the various operating divisions.
Programmatic areas within the division include the Georgia Commission for Service and Volunteerism, which administers the AmeriCorps-National grant program to qualified non-profit and local government applicants on a funds-available basis. Grant funds provide stipends for community service by AmeriCorps members in the national priority needs areas of education, environment, public safety and human need. AmeriCorps member service augments services provided by traditional volunteers. A fifteen-member board appointed by the Governor oversees Commission projects.
The Office of Regional Services (ORS) is also placed in the Executive Division and provides technical assistance to local governments, development authorities and chambers of commerce. Regional staff are located in each of the state's twelve Service Delivery Regions. Staff support the activities of Regional Advisory Councils and The Georgia Academy for Economic Development. They also provide leadership, community and economic development technical assistance to clients in their respective regions. ORS staff play a key role with the implementation of the Signature Community Program.
The Director of the Georgia Academy for Economic Development is attached to Regional Services. The Academy provides regional economic and leadership development training throughout the state. The Director works closely with ORS staff to coordinate logistics and program implementation.
The Office of Human Resources within Executive is responsible for maintaining and administering personnel recruitment and selection, compensation, performance evaluation, employee relations, workers compensation, policy development and position classification. The section also works closely with supervisors and managers to develop training programs and to resolve personnel problems and issues. In addition, the section provides employees with information and assistance regarding the state benefit package.
The Housing Finance Division administers the core housing finance and development programs. In particular the mortgage purchase, administration and servicing associated with the mortgage revenue bond program for homeownership and associated down payment loans; the allocation and administration of federal and state tax-credits and low-interest loans for affordable rental housing; the administration of the federal HOME program; and the associated non-profit and special needs initiatives. This division also conducts research on affordable housing issues and provides support to communities in addressing their affordable housing needs. In addition, the division administers the programs of the Georgia Housing and Finance Authority (GHFA) and is completely self-supporting-no state funds are used for operations.
In addition, the division issues tax-exempt bonds to finance single family mortgage loans. Bonds are currently issued under a single resolution, and the resulting bond fund totals in excess of $650 million. Standard & Poor's has assigned a AAA rating with Top Tier status to the resolution and its associated bond series. The division also manages a short-term general fund valued at approximately $50 million that includes restricted funds for 16 different programs administered by DCA, and closely monitors a long-term general fund portfolio valued in excess of $57 million that is actively managed by BlackRock.
Finally, this division provides staff, management and oversight for the State Housing Trust Fund for the Homeless Commission, a body governed by a nine member commission appointed by the Governor. The Trust Fund Commission awards funds to nonprofit organizations and units of local government to support the operation of emergency shelters, transitional housing and essential services for the homeless. The Commission also provides technical and financial assistance to supportive housing developments that serve individuals and families with special housing needs.
This division, through the Office of Planning and Quality Growth, focuses on helping the state's communities address issues of community development and quality of life by fostering implementation of quality growth best practices (e.g., adaptive reuse of historic structures) throughout the state. The Office encourages communities to use "smarter" approaches for managing local development in order to maintain community character and quality of life. This Office is also responsible for the administration and implementation of the Georgia Planning Act, Service Delivery Strategy Act and Georgia Development Impact Fee Act. The activities associated with these laws are many and include developing minimum planning standards and procedures for local and regional comprehensive plans; providing training and educational materials to local governments and RDCs on the coordinated planning process; monitoring developments of regional impact; and reviewing and verifying that local service delivery strategies comply with state law.
The Office of Environmental Management administers the Keep Georgia Beautiful Program, the lead agency in state government for solid waste public education and the state's recycling and waste reduction efforts. It has shared responsibility with other state agencies for managing and implementing the state solid waste management plan including training and educating teachers, public officials, and the general public on source reduction methods. This Office also administers the Georgia Comprehensive Solid Waste Management Act by developing local government planning standards, reviewing local government solid waste plans, and providing solid waste technical assistance to local governments. Finally, the Office of Environmental Management encourages and assists local governments and our citizens in becoming better stewards of our vital water resources through workshops, publications and the WaterFirst Community Program.
The division's Office of Research is responsible for administering local government surveys related to finance, taxation, and other topics. This Office publishes and maintains Georgia County Snapshots, Georgia CityScapes, Community Indicators, Uniform Chart of Accounts, and reports for the General Assembly. It also conducts ongoing local government research on topics of particular importance to local government and the general public, including preparing fiscal notes for the General Assembly.
Other responsibilities of the Planning and Environmental Management Division include overseeing Georgia's uniform construction codes and industrialized building programs, conducting performance audits of the state's 16 RDCs, and through the Office of Decision Support Services, assisting in the development and integration of information systems for the division and providing mapping and Geographical Information System services department-wide.
This division administers the federal Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher Program, which provides low income families with affordable, safe, quality rental housing. This U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) funded program is administered by DCA in 149 of Georgia's 159 counties through five regional offices in Albany, Athens, Carrollton, Eastman and Waycross. The program provides rent subsidies on behalf of very low income families and individuals to participating landlords who agree to maintain their rental properties to the required housing quality standards. In the remaining ten counties, local housing authorities administer Section 8 subsidies.
The program has more than 16,000 assisted families under contract and an annual budget of $100 million. It is staffed by approximately 125 workers, most of whom work in the field.
The OneGeorgia Authority, created by the Governor and the Legislature, is attached to DCA and utilizes one third of the state's tobacco settlement to assist the state's most economically challenged areas. Regulations for the EDGE and Equity funds were adopted by the OneGeorgia Authority Board on October 6, 2000 , and are available to the public. $1.6 billion is anticipated to be available over the 25-year term of the settlement. One part of the tobacco settlement already included assistance to tobacco farmers, but the OneGeorgia program augments this assistance and consequently helps capture additional federal matching funds. OneGeorgia investments will be targeted towards Tier 1 and 2 counties, based on the four-tier job tax credit map. Tier ranking is based on unemployment and poverty rates in addition to per capita income.
American Recovery and Re-Investment Act (ARRA)
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