FORSYTH COUNTY, Ga. — Forsyth County commissioners have decided to pass on up to $910,000 in grant money from the Department of Housing and Urban Development. The grant would have provided almost a million dollars to be used for housing improvements primarily for low income residents living within the county.
At an Aug. 11 workshop, the commission expressed concerns that the grant was encumbered by a number of conditions — typically affirmative action/“fair housing”-related — and as such, greatly restricted local control over how the money could be spent.
Forsyth County Attorney Ken Jarrard pointed out that terms of the HUD program for 2021 had a specific focus and that conditions based on the new HUD rules were “more flexible and less onerous.” He further noted that the process involved in taking advantage of the grant had been made easier and now only required “one or more steps.” He suggested the new guidelines seemed to give more local control to how the grand money could be spent.
Commissioner Molly Cooper expressed concerns, which were generally supported by other commissioners, that the new conditions might be subject to change depending on the results of the upcoming presidential election and that a “wait and see” approach might be most prudent.
Commissioners agreed that it could be beneficial to the county if grant money could be put to use to aid issues such as mental health and domestic violence.
Ultimately, Jarrard suggested that the board decline the grant this year but not give up the “entitlement status” which would enable the county to consider accepting the grant in 2022. That motion was made and passed unanimously.