City DopeNews

Habitat For Humanity Dedicates New Housing for Homeless College Students

Kelly Brannen of Lydia's Place and Spencer Frye of Athens Area Habitat for Humanity. Credit: Shelby Israel

The Athens Area Habitat for Humanity and Lydia’s Place dedicated Lydia’s Homeplace, housing for local college students who previously experienced homelessness, in an event earlier this month. 

The eight-bedroom quadruplex was renovated in a partnership between Athens Habitat and the nonprofit Lydia’s Place, and it is intended to provide homes for college students who otherwise cannot maintain residence in a dorm or would have to work full-time to afford housing, according to a Nov. 2 press release.

Athens Habitat Executive Director Spencer Frye said there is a housing crisis in Athens and across the United States, and it shocked him that many children in the foster care system no longer have contact with their foster families once they turn 18. “And think about when you were 18 and you got cut loose in the world, which you had this safety net,” Frye said. “And you sit there, and you think about, like, somebody who is all of a sudden cut loose from outside of a roof, doesn’t have a home to go to, and then they’re trying to go to college, and they’re going to work and living in their car, showering at [UGA’s Ramsey Center].”

Frye said the project is intended to provide a foothold for those in need, and that anyone at any time could require a place like Lydia’s Homeplace. “17–24 is such a pivotal time in a young person’s life of getting those foundations built and getting your financial networks in place and your education and your professional stuff in place,” said Kelly Brannen, executive director of Lydia’s Place. “And when all that is shifting and, you know, you’re living in your car and trying to study or trying to finish your GED, it’s just next to impossible.”

Frye thanked those who supported and contributed to the project, including Jade and Graham Joyner of Metal + Petal, State Farm, ACC Commissioner Melissa Link, the Rose and Dahlia Garden Club, the University of Georgia Housing Directors Association, Gus Vega’s All-Star Painting, Athens Church and artist Ursula Ann Cole, who painted the mural on the side of Lydia’s Homeplace.  

“This is a one-of-a-kind partnership,” Frye said in the press release. “It’s a 100% local initiative that came about through conversations with April Farlow of Lydia’s Place. They had a sponsored dorm room that was losing funding, and it ended up that we could provide an entire building for less than they were paying for one room.”

Earlier this year, the Athens Habitat received COVID-19 relief funds to construct another affordable housing project in East Athens, Micah’s Creek, which is also in partnership with Lydia’s Place. Micah’s Creek will provide additional housing units for college students experiencing homelessness, as well as families with children who attend Gaines Elementary School, local artists and veterans.