Hansel Morgan 1

The city of Buford is preparing to move forward with plans over the next two years to renovate its current Buford Housing Authority units and relocate a number of those units to different locations within the downtown area.

Buford City Manager Bryan Kerlin, left, and Buford Housing Authority Kevin Jones review documents. Photo courtesy of the city of Buford

The Buford Housing Authority manages 189 public housing units in Gwinnett and Hall counties and of those, 143 units are located inside the city limits of Buford.

The Buford Planning and Zoning Board has recommended approval of a rezoning request for South Street and Elliot Street. The rezoning request was made by The Paces Foundation, a sustainable affordable housing developer. The request will come before the Buford City Commission for final approval at its May meeting.

According to the city, the South and Elliot streets rezoning is the first step for The Paces Foundation as the developer begins construction of several new communities that will renovate and relocate the current Buford Housing Authority units on New Street and East Park Street.

“Many of the public housing properties in Buford were built in the early 1950s, and at that time, they were considered a quality product and exceeded many of the construction standards of that era,” said Kevin Jones, executive director of the Buford Housing Authority. “However, little has changed since then to keep up with modern construction advancements and the Buford Housing Authority along with the City of Buford’s help are aiming to change all that.”

The community planned at Elliott Street and South Street will be named Handsel Morgan
Village after the Buford Housing Authority’s founder. Photo courtesy of the city of Buford

Plans include the following relocations, renovations and new constructions:

• Forty-five of the 73 units located on New Street and East Park Street would be relocated one mile south to South Street, where 44 new quadruplexes and one triplex would become a 55 and older community named Handsel Morgan Village for the housing authority’s founder.

“We are so proud to hear the naming of this new complex will be after my grandfather,” said Lois Morgan-Grimsley, Handsel Morgan’s granddaughter. “In 1950, at age 29, he was named Director of the newly established Buford Housing Authority. Known as Mr. Buford, he was a selfless and giving man, and we love that his legacy is living on in the name of these residences.”

• Ten apartments are slated for the existing housing authority property off Circle View Drive and Trail View Drive and will be built on a new road called Hill View Drive. This property would include a new community building and a playground. All 70 existing apartments would be fully renovated internally and externally.

A new family-oriented community on Arnold Street will be named Mary Alice Place after Mary Alice Beard, the first female executive director of the Buford Housing Authority. Photo courtesy of the city of Buford

• Twenty new apartments are planned for New Street and Arnold Street, and the family-oriented community will be named Mary Alice Place after the first female executive director of the Buford Housing Authority, Mary Alice Beard.

““It’s been my honor to serve the residents in
these communities and to help the people who live here,” Beard said.

The replacement is a unit for unit replacement,” said Buford City Manager Bryan Kerlin. “The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) partners with authorities and provides tax credits for developers to introduce these kinds of mutually beneficial communities.”

The renovations and relocations are being funded by the Low Income Housing Tax Credit program with the Rental Assistance Demonstration Program allowing public housing authorities to leverage public and private debt to improve properties.

“The Buford Housing Authority is excited about the plans to relocate the families that currently live on East Park Street and New Street to these new and modern homes and will also help address the need for affordable housing for the senior community in the city,” Jones said. 

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