Lunch & Learns on SOPOS* Agenda Conducted Around the State
A series of Lunch & Learns were held this quarter around the state to present the SOPOS agenda to local communities, sponsored by the Centers for Independent Living in North Georgia, Macon, Columbus, Rome and metro Atlanta (Tucker). The Centers invited participants from local nonprofits, affordable housing groups, Habitat for Humanity affiliates and Area Agencies on Aging to share approaches to advocating locally, statewide and at the national level for more funding and programming that makes housing more affordable, accessible and integrated into the community.
Education and Training Committee Develops Recommendations on Training of Building Professionals
In May, the SOPOS Steering Committee appointed an Education and Training Committee to explore and make recommendations for the training of building industry professionals. Members of the committee are Nadeen Green (For Rent Media Solutions), Mike Galifianakis (State ADA Coord.), Joyce Catrett (Metro Fair Housing Services), Debbie Phillips (Georgia Tech) and Shelly Simmons (The SILC of Georgia). The committee was charged with making recommendations about training that would be designed to:
- increase the number of dwellings built in Georgia that meet all accessibility requirements;
- ensure that residential construction and rehab projects meet all access requirements in their jurisdiction;
- Prepare advocates and design professionals to better assist in the implementation of existing laws and regulations.
The committee met and recommended that SOPOS focus its limited time and resources on trying to “nip the problem in the bud” and figure out how improvements may be made in the education of academic, design, law and architecture students so that they come out better prepared. Ryan Taylor, a local architect and member of the SOPOS Coalition, does Continuing Education webinars on building codes for the American Institute of Architects (AIA) of Georgia. He pointed out that architects have to get CE credits to renew their architect certification (ARE). This is an opportunity to introduce material about residential accessibility laws and requirements. Ryan suggests that SOPOS host a webinar on the accessibility laws and requirements. He would help set it up on Go to Webinar, and we’d have the recording of it afterwards. This could then be shared with others. We are currently researching options for doing this with/through an organization that already has such a curriculum out there. If anyone is aware of one, please let Marty Collier know.
Another source of professional training is done by the Insurance Office of America. This is a professional liability broker and they host ½ day training sessions. They do not want their policy holders to get sued, so we believe they should be willing to present the information, too.
Renovation Tool Distributed at Real Estate Investor’s Workshop
In June, Shelly Simmons and Marty Collier presented the SOPOS Renovation Tool to a gathering of rehabbers and investors at the Georgia Real Estate Investor’s Association (GAREIA) in Norcross, GA. Investors who are rehabbing vacant properties and foreclosures were very receptive to the tool and the message to make rehabbed properties Visitable and received copies of the tool to take to the field. A number of personal testimonies about the need for increased access in housing by family members of the investor-rehabbers made it a congenial and educational interchange.
Visitability Presented to Atlanta Area Government Planners and Housing Officials
In July, Marty Collier presented a workshop on Visitability to the members of the Atlanta Regional Commission’s Land Use Advisory Committee (LUAC). Area officials gained access to the Renovation Tool and learned how Visitability has been implemented in many communities around Georgia and the nation. Our partnership with ARC is on-going and being explored at various levels to identify other ways to increase the awareness of the need for basic access features to be incorporated into all housing and community planning.
On a Personal Note
Earlier this year, Pat Puckett, one of the founders and staunchest advocates of the SOPOS Coalition, was honored at a reception with many organizational co-sponsors upon her retirement as Executive Director of the Statewide Independent Living Council of Georgia. In August, Pat and her husband moved to Kentucky to be closer to family. We are grateful for her pioneering leadership and hard work for the Coalition, and already miss her presence greatly in Georgia.
*The SOPOS Coalition is a multi-disciplinary group that grew out of the 2011 publication of the SOPOS Report, “Shut Out, Priced Out and Segregated: The Need for Fair Housing for People with Disabilities.” For additional information, or to get more involved, please contact the Coordinator, Marty Collier at email@example.com