Athens-Clarke County Mayor Kelly Girtz stressed the need for expanded housing options and coordination between homeless service providers at a press conference at the University of Georgia on Sept. 23.
Girtz said the Athens-Clarke County Government wants stronger central coordination between the almost three dozen homeless service providers in the area. About a month ago, ACC signed a deal with a Washington, D.C.-based consultant to get an outside look at how to do this, Girtz said. Central coordination between services would provide a better focus on resources and prevent duplication.
With central coordination, Girtz hopes for stronger case management between service providers. He also hopes for an expanded range of housing options.
“Among the things that are true about homelessness is that it’s this fractured landscape of service providers,” Girtz said.
Girtz also stressed the need to expand a range of housing options throughout Athens. This includes rapid rehousing and permanent beds for those with permanent cognitive or health challenges as well as modest income housing, Girtz said. He also referenced a proposal for the fall to create permanent workforce housing.
“If you think about the housing world and you think about these circles that link each other, like the Olympic logo, you have a variety of housing types but they’re not totally exclusive,” Girtz said.
This comes as Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp awarded Athens Area Habitat for Humanity $4.2 million for an affordable housing project on the Eastside. The project includes housing for local veterans, musicians, artists and families with children in the Gaines Elementary School district. Through the Athens Area Habitat for Humanity, residents would pay 30% of their monthly income and cannot be less than $300.
The North Downtown redevelopment will see an expansion from 450 to 1500-1600 low-income bedrooms, while losing none of the fully affordable ones and gaining some modestly affordable housing. Girtz said there will also be some bedrooms that are priced at the median income which is $38,311.
“What you want in communities is when a kid walks out that front door, on the way to the bus in the morning, you want them to see a great variety of people,” Girtz said.