It’s wonderful to see the Gwinnett Citizen back in production after the worst of the pandemic, and I’m grateful for this opportunity to report on my recent State of the County address.
Our colorful logo represents Gwinnett County as we vibrantly connect the unique people, place, and promise of our community. The kaleidoscope is the lens through which we view progress. As a county government, we’re focusing that lens on providing services that meet the Gwinnett Standard. And whenever you see it, we want you to feel safe, protected and included.
A quarter of us came here from other countries, bringing vibrant cultures, energy and strengths. I’m committed to embracing our diversity and harnessing its creativity and innovative spirit and that is the reason we have embarked on an equity action plan to analyze our current policies and practices and chart a path forward to ensure equity is at the core of county government operations.
We are providing services for our most vulnerable residents, such as our growing senior population and children from birth to age 8, and we have facilitated COVID-19 vaccination efforts countywide.
Stable, affordable housing is another area where we are directing resources. Project RESET 2.0 has provided nearly $50 million in rent and utility assistance to more than 5,000 households, garnering U.S. Treasury recognition as a model for other local governments.
Based on what we’ve learned so far about our housing challenges, we will be establishing a working group to help us develop a comprehensive plan that promotes housing development, increases affordability and preserves naturally occurring affordable housing.
Overall violent crime rates here decreased in both 2020 and 2021. By tackling root causes and building strong relationships with residents, we can continue to build a safer, more stable community. For example, we expanded a pilot program that pairs a mental health professional with a police officer to respond to behavioral health incidents. We also launched five warming stations that open when temperatures drop to 35 degrees or below, keeping over 1,000 residents out of the cold.
As part of my speech this year, I presented Standard Bearer Awards to recognize members of our community whose good works embody our kaleidoscope and uphold the Gwinnett Standard: In the People category, we honored Chef Hank Reid, who launched Lettum Eat to provide high-quality meals to people facing food insecurity. The Place category award went to a vibrant community center that embraces Gwinnett’s unique spirit, Plaza Las Americas, represented by Arturo Adonay. And the Promise category award recognized the Gwinnett County Grants Division, led by Shannon Candler, for their work to distribute federal pandemic-relief funds efficiently and effectively.
I am so proud to serve our vibrant, dynamic county and appreciate everything that so many people throughout the community do to support Gwinnett’s people, place, and promise, in big ways and small.