The city’s Community Housing Team met for the first time on November 7th at City Hall during lunch.
Everyone introduced themselves and their organization and why participating on the team is important to them, why it matters.
Joey Staubes, a city Planner from the Community Development Department, then presented on the elements of the recently adopted Comprehensive Plan that specifically address housing. The team was formed out of the goals of the Smyrna Strategic Vision Plan and the 2040 Comprehensive Plan incorporates that vision and updated it.
The team then had a discussion on homelessness in Smyrna, what resources are available to the City to assist individuals suffering from homelessness or housing instability, and how it often has to go beyond the city and requires county level assistance and the services of multiple nonprofits serving the community.
Those with more expertise and background in working with homeless communities helped clarify the difference between different types of homelessness. There is chronic homelessness and there is housing insecurity and instability. Most of the time the individuals who are most visibly homeless in a downtown area represent only a fraction of the total population experiencing housing insecurity. There are people who experience mental illness and addiction and there are those that just lost their job or couldn’t make rent.
Housing affordability was identified as the number one driver of homelessness in Cobb County by the nonprofit professionals who work on housing issues in the community. MUST Ministries reported that 67% of people entering the shelter report that they are there because they struggled to make rent and faced eviction. Most of these individuals are working mothers with children.
The team discussed topics for future meetings and decided that monthly meetings were the best way forward.
- Eviction and Foreclosure
- Housing affordability
- Land Banks
- Zoning Code and Ordinances
- How does a development get built?
The team then had the option to remain another hour and observe a webinar about collaborative community strategies to address homelessness that have proven successful in Texas and California.