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ACC Comissioners Address Homelessness

Athens-Clarke County commissioners passed a resolution addressing homelessness in Athens during a special session on Tuesday, but it wasn't without opposition from some local officials.

Spearheaded by commissioners Mariah Parker and Jesse Houle, the Resolution to Address Homelessness with Immediacy and Strategic Planning directs county staff to find a location for a legal encampment for homeless Athenians​, and to begin developing a plan to develop and manage the site.

A proposed site could be named by mid-July, but District 5 Commissioner Tim Denson expressed concern about the timeline since the project may not be completed until mid to late September, and CSX Transportation Incoporated, a railway company, ​has said it intends to evict a large homeless camp located under a railway bridge in EARLY September.

Commissioners ​Jesse Houle and ​Melissa Link agreed that the county government should request an extension from CSX. District 1 Commissioner Patrick Davenport did not support the resolution, and referred to the project as a "Band-Aid" to the homelessness issue in Athens. District 9 Commissioner Ovita Thornton "half-heartedly" supported the resolution.

THORNTON: "I'm supporting it because there have been some dedicated folk that have worked continuously with the encampments and they have reached out to us and we have ignored them. And now we're up to a deadline."

The resolution was approved with a 6-4 vote, with commissioners Davenport, Wright, Hamby, and Edwards voting against it.

Commissioners also unanimously approved financing improvements to the Costa Building ​downtown with leftover 2011 SPLOST funds, and approved the next steps for the TSPLOST 2023 program including the proposed goals, project selection criteria, and an implementation schedule.

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