How We Came to Be

In May, 2005 the Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) Commission, a group of retired high-ranking military officers responsible for deciding which bases will close, announced that it would recommend that the U.S. Department of Defense close the Navy Corps Supply School in Athens, along with three other Georgia bases, and move its supply, maintenance and transportation training programs to a base in Rhode Island. Athens-Clarke County Mayor Heidi Davison designated members to the Local Redevelopment Authority (LRA), a group of citizens recognized by the Secretary of Defense that act as a single voice for the community in responding to the Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) process. The LRA’s mission is to develop a comprehensive reuse plan to submit to the Navy.

In January, 2006 members of the Northeast Georgia Homeless Coalition formed a subcommittee to begin work on a collaborative proposal for the Navy Supply Corps School Reuse Plan, educating ourselves regarding the McKinney-Vento Act (a federal law requiring the LRA to consider local homeless assistance provider needs and to determine if portions of the base could be effectively used to support these needs without a detrimental impact on the reuse of the remainder of the base), BRAC law, the LRA, and community wishes for the property. We identified existing gaps in services to homeless individuals and families, developed a shared strategy to address these gaps, and prepared six separate Notices of Interest to the LRA under the common umbrella of the Northeast Georgia Homeless Coalition. Each Notice of Interest had a sponsoring agency, with Advantage sponsoring two different applications. The next several months were spent in communication with the LRA regarding our proposals and education to the members regarding our current services and proposed expansions. In May, 2007 the LRA voted unanimously to accommodate the six proposals from the Northeast Georgia Homeless Coalition off-site. The end-user of the actual Navy School property will be required to provide funds to purchase land and buildings to accommodate the proposals. No money will come directly to the homeless providers. Instead, the money will go through another 501(c)3, the Athens Homeless Property Corporation (AHPC), created by the LRA. This 501(c)3 will find the land, purchase or build the buildings, and lease the buildings to the five agencies through a 30 year contractual lease agreement that will be renewable for an additional 20 years.

Since then, ARCH has been working with the AHPC to develop property to house the various programs included in the LRA homeless accommodation. We are very excited about the opportunities this accommodation will provide to homeless families and individuals in our community. The collaborations among the different homeless providers and with the LRA has resulted in a reuse plan that is “the most unique and innovative that a veteran of base-closings, consultant Jim Hicks, said he’s ever seen,” according to the Athens Banner-Herald.