The Georgia Ports Authority will donate $6 million in coming years to improve affordable housing options in Savannah and neighboring communities, officials said Tuesday.

The cash infusion to the Savannah Affordable Housing Fund will be the largest outside contribution to the fund since its founding 12 years ago, city officials said in a news release.

The ports authority is a state agency that operates Georgia's busy seaports in Savannah and Brunswick. The Port of Savannah is the fourth-busiest U.S. port for retail goods and other cargo shipped in containers.

Funding from the ports authority will primarily go toward home repairs for low- and middle-income residents, as well as down payment assistance for qualifying first-time homebuyers in Savannah, Garden City and Port Wentworth — cities that are home to much of the Savannah port's workforce.

"These hard-working people have helped make our successes possible, and it is our duty to help them make their housing dreams attainable," Georgia Ports Authority CEO Griff Lynch said in a statement.

The Savannah Affordable Housing Fund was started by city officials in 2011 to support the development and protection of affordable housing in the area.

The port authority plans to contribute $750,000 per year to the fund over the course of eight years.