Knight Foundation to Double Macon-Bibb’s ARPA Investments in NewTown Macon, Historic Macon to Create Affordable Housing

Staff Report

Tuesday, July 20th, 2021

NewTown Macon and the Historic Macon Foundation will increase affordable housing in Macon-Bibb County by building new rental units and renovating existing ones with investments from Macon-Bibb County’s American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds and a matching grant from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation. The grant announcement was made on Monday, July 19 and is pending approval of the ARPA funds by the Macon-Bibb County Commission. To watch the full announcement, click here

Knight’s strategic investments in Macon focus on supporting an inclusive downtown for all residents to live, work and connect with each other, which aligns with the priorities of the community-driven Macon Action Plan. The grants are for $1 million for NewTown Macon and $600,000 for Historic Macon, thus doubling the amount they will have available to create affordable housing. 

“This is a once in a lifetime opportunity to make transformational change in people’s lives for years to come,” says Mayor Lester Miller. “This is work that is going to lift our entire community.”

“This is a pivotal moment in NewTown’s history, to be able to transition from the central business district to the attached neighborhoods and be able to make a difference,” says NewTown Macon President and CEO Josh Rogers.

“We know that healthy and thriving neighborhoods must have a mix of housing options, so we are delighted to be investing $1.2 million in quality, affordable, rental housing in the Beall’s Hill community,” says Historic Macon Foundation Board Chair Gerri Marion McCord. “The initiative has been a priority for Historic Macon for several years, but the impact of COVID on our Macon neighbors has pushed this housing option to the top of the priority list.”

“Knight supports inclusive, equitable, and engaged communities, so we are thrilled to invest in an initiative where neighborhood residents are so deeply involved in the creation of more affordable housing,” said Lynn Murphey, Knight’s Macon program director. “We have worked with both NewTown and Historic Macon and have seen the impact of their work in community. This alliance between residents, nonprofits and local government can be a model for other cities seeking to make transformational change in people’s lives.”

NewTown Macon intends to use $2 million to help residents become entrepreneurs. They will help people renovate and rent blighted properties by training them to build and rehabilitate investment property in their neighborhoods. NewTown will also establish a revolving loan program to support residents’ purchase and renovation of 20 blighted urban core properties that will then be rented out at affordable rates by residents.

Historic Macon plans to use its $1.2 million to build 12 to 16 affordable rental units in the Beall’s Hill community by Spring 2022. It aims to increase quality, affordable rental housing to meet demand and combat blight in the area as the next step in the neighborhood’s ongoing revitalization. The investment will also create an ongoing rental housing revolving fund for the organization to use in other neighborhoods.

The Macon-Bibb County Board of Commissioners is expected to vote on final approval of its ARPA funds on Tuesday, July 20. The proposal passed the Committee of the Whole unanimously on Tuesday, July 13 as part of a more than $18 million plan to use funds to help the community, including creating affordable housing, addressing food deserts, attacking blight, and more.