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Tobie Grant Manor residents to begin relocating in January

Jennifer Ffrench-Parker | 12/27/2013, 6 a.m.
Norris Reid has lived at Tobie Grant Manor for 21 years. In April, he said he hoped to move to the new community that will replace it. Photo by Curtis Parker

Starting in January, about 600 residents of Tobie Grant Manor will be relocated as the DeKalb Housing Authority prepares to demolish the more than 50-year-old Scottdale public housing complex to make way for a $34 million development of rent-assisted and market-rate apartments and single-family homes for families and seniors.

Paula Gwynn Grant, the authority’s director of communications and community development, said on Dec. 17 that relocation will take three months to complete.

“Once residents are relocated by approximately the end of March, we plan on beginning demolition in late spring 2014 and construction will begin in late summer 2014 of both our new senior apartments and family apartments [approximately 300 units total].”

The housing authority announced the project in April as it was preparing to apply to the Georgia Department of Community Affairs for low-income tax credits under the Department of Housing and Urban Development’s $26 billion Rental Assistance Demonstration program to renovate public housing nationwide.

RAD provides 20-year, Section 8 contracts to public-private partnerships to lock in rent assistance payments, with yearly percentage increases. With the program, officials expect to transform traditional public housing into sustaining mixed-income communities similar to what was done in East Lake and the former Johnson Ferry East public housing complex.

Tobie Grant Manor’s 104 brick buildings were built in the 1960s. It sits on 55 acres in Scottdale, 40 of which were donated to the county by Tobie Grant, whose parents were slaves.

The Scottdale resident and African-American philanthropist gained fame as a noted psychic and built her fortune as a shrewd businesswoman.

She died at age 96 in 1968 after donating the land “for the betterment of blacks in Scottdale,” then a neglected and segregated community.

The complex of duplexes and apartments includes 200 one- to five-bedroom units. It is one of 266 public housing units and 514 multifamily housing units operated by the DeKalb Housing Authority countywide.

The housing authority is partnering with private Atlanta developer NorSouth Development to demolish the aging buildings and build 452 new housing units, 180 senior apartment units, 200 multifamily units, and 72 town homes on the 46 acres of the property that are developable.

The Tobie Grant Manor application for $769,696 in tax credit funding, made in June, was not among those the Department of Community Affairs approved in November.

The project will be built with a mix of conventional financing, tax-exempt bonds, and low-income tax credits, and while it awaits word from the state, Grant, no relation to Tobie Grant, said the authority is proceeding with the project.

She said the authority’s Board of Commissioners approved issuing $15 million in tax-exempt multifamily revenue bonds to finance the acquisition and construction of the new development that will replace Tobie Grant Manor apartments.

The residents will be given Section 8 vouchers, which Grant said allows them to live anywhere in the state or country, and relocation expenses of $100 to $2,325 as stipulated by HUD’s Uniform Relocation Assistance Act.

The amount that residents get is based on their unit size and whether or not they choose to use the housing authority to physically move their things to their new home or if they use a professional moving company.

Grant said the housing authority will inspect the home they want to move to.

“We are with them every step of this process,” she said.

“Then, per HUD requirement, we will track and continue to work with our Tobie Grant Manor families with supportive social services and Housing Choice Voucher compliance for the next 60 months.”