Letters to the EditorNews

Athens Needs More Affordable Housing

 wanted to write you a letter to express my critical understanding and thoughtful solutions on the housing market and why rents and home prices have gotten so high in Athens. Currently, I am a graduate student at the University of Georgia, and I am interning at the Athens Anti-Discrimination Movement, where several residents have voiced their hardships and struggles with affordable housing in the area. 

While you have a dedicated section titled “Students drive up rent” in your Sept. 14 article, I feel as though UGA led to the increase in rent. I am also aware of third parties who are buying up specific land parcels in the Athens community. Every year UGA accepts more students than the set number of student housing in the area. This causes everything to be impacted in a domino effect. Having a city such as Athens that houses such a large university that continues to grow enrollment results in a lot of conflict with local communities seeking affordable housing. 

So far for this year, there have been two new apartment complexes in Athens that are considered luxury apartments. These apartments are in low-income communities and, with that being said, rent is bound to increase for homes near those establishments. New housing projects that are currently being built plan to increase the money that they are receiving and keep the working class and non-college age residents out. Establishments and third party investors aren’t allowed to discriminate, but they use rent as a barrier for people living in low-income areas. 

The housing crisis is causing many Athens residents to move out or become homeless, as stated in the article, and I suggest that we offer support by advocating for UGA students and volunteers to work with organizations like the Ark, the Backpack Project, Sparrow’s Nest and many more. As a result, students and volunteers will have an opportunity to learn about homelessness and how they can dispel misconceptions about people in homelessness. I would also suggest reaching out to other states who are currently experiencing the same housing crisis and collaborate on different solutions that will help best resolve or provide temporary relief in the meantime. 

I would also suggest building more affordable housing. Housing through the Athens Land Trust will ultimately and permanently be considered affordable, since it is completely off of the private market. To conclude, I would recommend enacting rent stabilization policies that would work to decommission housing in order to make affordable housing more accessible to more people.