ATLANTA – Gov. Brian Kemp announced Monday that his office will provide $62 million to help Georgia communities address homelessness and housing insecurity.

The governor’s office will award the funds to 20 organizations who applied via a competitive process. The funds will be used to build affordable housing, improve existing housing, and provide mental health services to people who are homeless.

“As Georgians faced the unprecedented challenges and economic downturn of the pandemic, COVID-19 robbed some of their financial stability, expanding the homeless population in vulnerable communities,” said Kemp. “Those who were already homeless faced even greater difficulties, with many already struggling with mental health or substance abuse issues.”

“By investing these funds in those who are already making a difference around our state on these fronts, we will provide those most in need with resources that will aid them on the road to personal and financial recovery,” Kemp said.

“I’m thrilled to see a number of Georgia ACT [Advancing Communities Together] members receiving funding for affordable housing development,” said Bambie Hayes-Brown, the president and CEO of Georgia ACT, a statewide coalition of affordable housing groups.

“We know the work that our mission-based developers do is very important to providing housing opportunities for the lowest income of Georgians,” said Hayes-Brown.

Hayes-Brown said Georgia ACT members awarded funding include Mercy Housing Southeast, Quest Community Development, and SUMMECH Community Development. These groups all work to provide affordable housing, mostly in the Atlanta area.

“We would like to see more outreach to those small mission-based developers outside of metro Atlanta and [those groups] also given technical assistance to apply,” said Hayes-Brown.

Some of the other groups awarded funding include Habitat for Humanity organizations in Athens, Troup County, and Houston County.

The funds come from federal COVID relief funds provided to the state under the American Rescue Plan Act. Additional grants will be awarded this fall to groups working to help homeless Georgians, said Andrew Isenhour, a spokesman for the governor.

A spokesman for Democrat Stacey Abrams – who is challenging Kemp for the governorship in November – criticized Kemp’s announcement.

“Kemp has repeatedly railed against spending that he’s now trying to claim credit for – even as housing costs continue to skyrocket on his watch with no response from him but election year gimmicks,” said Alex Floyd for the campaign.

This story is available through a news partnership with Capitol Beat News Service, a project of the Georgia Press Educational Foundation.