Awards of Excellence: The Wimberly Center for Community Development
The Winder Housing Authority (WHA) wins a 2018 Award of Excellence in Community Revitalization for creating the Wimberly Center for Community Development, a resource center housing multiple organizations dedicated to serving their community. Nominated from among the NAHRO Award of Merit winners each year, the Awards of Excellence winners are chosen by national juries and honored at the annual National Conference and Exhibition in October. They represent the very best in innovative programs in assisted housing and community development.
Since 2012, WHA had wanted to create a place where members of their community could drop-by and receive services from multiple organizations under one roof. In [YEAR], the City of Winder’s Urban Development Plan was approved and identified five blighted areas in the community that could benefit from revitalization, including the future site of the community center. In 2014, WHA successfully partnered with the City of Winder on a $500,000 Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) application, with the city as the lead applicant.
Around the same time they were applying for CDBG, WHA converted their entire public housing portfolio to Project-Based Rental Assistance (PBRA) using the Rental Assistance Demonstration (RAD) program, which allows housing authorities to bring in private capital and resources to meet the needs for capital improvements. As of January 2016, all WHA units had been sold to WHA affiliates, and are now being operated as PBRA units. Using the proceeds from the sale of these units, WHA purchased a recently vacated middle school and an adjoining park to convert it into a community center.
The Wimberly Center for Community Development is named after the middle school’s former principal and a WHA board member for 15 years, Mr. Robert Wimberly. The community center houses several organizations, allowing them to reduce their overhead costs, focus on providing needed services, and better serve the community. Current Wimberly Center partners include:
- Wimberly’s Roots
- Boys & Girls Club
- ACTION, Inc.
- Piedmont CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates)
- Barrow County Family Connection
- A Kid’s Dream
- Habitat for Humanity
- Live Forward
- Lanier Technical College
- Adult Literacy Barrow
Together they provide the following services to members of their community:
- Character and value building
- Workforce and career development
- General Equivalency Diploma (GED) prep
- English as a Second Language (ESL), school credit, and continuing education
- Homebuyer counseling
- Opportunities Now counseling /case management
- Fitness and recreation
- Summer lunch
- After-school tutoring
- Homework assistance
- 4-H programs, and more.
WHA also noticed that members of their community had trouble accessing affordable fresh food. They applied to participate in the EPA and USDA’s Local Foods, Local Places project to develop a community kitchen and community garden.
By bringing together community stakeholders together into one building, WHA created a catalyst for their city’s revitalization, and provided much-needed services in a single, central location.