City DopeNews

ACC Commission Will Distribute $5 Million for Affordable Housing

The ACC Commission will vote Dec. 13 on distributing $5.1 million in federal funds to local affordable housing nonprofits.

The funding comes from the 2021 American Rescue Plan Act. ACC received $60 million through the act and set aside $11 million for affordable housing. The rest has already been allocated to the North Downtown Project, the redevelopment of Bethel Midtown Village in partnership with the Athens Housing Authority.

A citizen committee and county Housing and Community Development Department staff recommended four projects for funding: $1.5 million to Athens Area Habitat for Humanity for Micah’s Creek, an affordable housing development for families with students at Gaines Elementary School; $2.75 million for the Athens Land Trust to build 15 affordable houses on Ruth Street, Dublin Street and Hawthorne Extension; $415,000 for an ALT home repair program; and $415,000 for an Athens Community Council on Aging home repair program.  

Commissioner Ovita Thornton, who will not be present for next year’s vote said at a Dec. 6 work session that similar projects should be combined to save money, and criticized the public input process. A survey was completed by 196 residents.

Commissioner Jesse Houle asked why the Habitat project didn’t receive more funding. There’s some risk involved because the project requires cooperation with a railroad, Housing and Community Development interim director Andrew Saunders said, and staff didn’t want to bring forward a recommendation without funding for weatherization projects.

ACC received a total of $20 million in requests, later whittled down to $14 million. Other applications were submitted by the developers of a “cottage court” subdivision at 1165 Oglethorpe Ave. near Forest Heights, the East Athens Development Corp., Athens Recovery Center and Hopeful Inspiration, a group that wanted to make a documentary about repairing homes in Forest Heights.

Commissioner Melissa Link asked why the EADC project was rated highly by staff but not the advisory committee. Housing and Community Development Department officials said the committee was concerned that the per-unit cost was unusually high ($450,000) and that it would only create two units.