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Kroc Center's First Stop Village not fully occupied

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Seven rehabilitated houses on the Kroc Center campus intended as offices for social service agencies await full occupancy.

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Christel Jiles, a housing counselor for the CSRA Economic Opportunity Authority, shows where the new EOA offices are situated at the Kroc Center's First Stop Village on Broad Street in Augusta. Jiles says the new location is easier for people to find, and with other organizations moving into the other buildings it will be easier to refer clients back and forth.   EMILY ROSE BENNETT/STAFF
EMILY ROSE BENNETT/STAFF
Christel Jiles, a housing counselor for the CSRA Economic Opportunity Authority, shows where the new EOA offices are situated at the Kroc Center's First Stop Village on Broad Street in Augusta. Jiles says the new location is easier for people to find, and with other organizations moving into the other buildings it will be easier to refer clients back and forth.

The small white houses facing Broad Street make up First Stop Village, where social service agencies can operate satellite offices. Next door, a larger brick building houses the United Way of the CSRA and the Salvation Army’s First Stop Family Service Center.

Two of the seven First Stop Village houses are occupied, and Goodwill Job Connection is scheduled to open in a third, said Amy Hobby Rickard, the director of the Kroc Center First Stop Center. Two other agencies have expressed interest in the houses, but Hobby Rickard declined to name the organizations because no agreements have been signed and move-in dates have not been set.

Since last summer, the United Way has used one house for its conference center. The only other operating agency, the CSRA Economic Opportunity Authority, moved into a house in October.

During planning stages for the Kroc Center, the First Stop Center was envisioned as a model for upcoming Kroc Centers elsewhere. A central location would help social service agencies communicate and coordinate regarding what services best fit a residents’ needs.

When deciding to open its first satellite office in the Augusta area, Goodwill Job Connections chose the Kroc Center campus, where it has potential to work with other community resources, said Susan Everitt, the communications director for Goodwill Industries of Middle Georgia and the CSRA. The location is scheduled to open in the beginning of July.

“One of the benefits they anticipate is better access to clients in the neighborhood. Our services will become more available to clients,” Everitt said.

Although the Kroc Center facilities opened more than 10 months ago, Hobby Rickard said no timetable was made for filling to capacity the First Stop Village. Renovations were completed on two houses earlier than the others, and the additional houses were to meet future growth needs.

Exterior renovations and landscaping for the four remaining houses are complete, but they still need work on the interior before being ready for occupancy, Hobby Rickard said.

The EOA’s Home Ownership Planning Education program relocated from East Boundary to the Kroc Center campus. In addition to better security, the three on-site staff members can refer clients to other agencies, housing counselor Christel Jiles said.

According to The Augusta Chronicle archives, the seven houses were built in the early 1900s. They were moved from other locations on Broad Street to preserve historic character and maintain the neighborhood feel of Harrisburg.


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