ATLANTA, Ga. (CW69 News at 10) — The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) partnered with the Housing Trust Fund to recently allocate $17 million to Georgia for the development, re-development and preservation of affordable housing, which helps low-income families.

Diana Villalva, 18, knows all about the need for affordable housing. She lost her dad when she was just two years old and not long after her family immigrated from Mexico to Atlanta. “My dad was murdered, so we moved out and we went to go live in Cobb, but you know, Cobb County was a little expensive,” she said, discussing their efforts to find suitable housing in the Metro area. Her family ultimately moved to the Seven Courts Apartments in Atlanta, where an affordable housing program helped her family survive.

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The Rainbow Housing Assistance Corporation provides affordable housing resources to 171 units in Atlanta, including continuing education and job placement. “Any support through any funding allows us to fulfill those passions and goals that we have for the community,” said Barbara Johnson, a community coordinator for Rainbow. “Rainbow has really changed my life completely, because they gave me a chance to go to college,” said Villalva.

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Staff members say it’s about more than providing a home. “Once we have those residents coming into our communities, we need to sustain them in society by providing the opportunities to connect to education, workforce and life skills,” said Rainbow Executive Director Flynann Janisse.

It’s all the more important during a pandemic, and it’s what’s inspiring Diana to  to pursue a career allowing her to give back to the community. She’s earned Rainbow scholarships, and she’s now a junior at Albany State University. “Ms. Barbara has been helping me a lot, not only scholarship-wise in my school, but also family-wise,” Villalva said. “It’s about letting them know that they can go to a higher place,” said Johnson, adding, “It is a passion to be with an agency that takes into consideration the needs of the community.”

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Rainbow staff members say they look forward to giving a hand up to more families in need as more funding becomes available.