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Commissioners approve reboot of eviction prevention program

Athens-Clarke County officials are giving the county’s eviction prevention program a second chance.

At their Tuesday night meeting, commissioners voted 9-1 to reboot the county’s eviction prevention program. The original iteration of the program was suspended last fall after county staff uncovered financial irregularities from the non-profit administering it.

I think it's much cheaper to keep people in their homes than it is to try to rehouse them.
ACC Commissioner Jesse Houle

That non-profit, Athenian First Development Corp., failed to provide documentation for more than $100,000 in expenditures.

Family Promise of Athens and The Ark will run the new and modified eviction program. While the old program provided assistance to households facing active eviction proceedings, the updated program will also assist households at risk of eviction.

Most commissioners were in favor of restarting the eviction program under new management. District 6’s Jesse Houle spoke of the eviction program’s benefits for housing insecure and homeless Athenians.

"There's a strong economic argument for this," Houle said. "I think it's much cheaper to keep people in their homes than it is to try to rehouse them. I also think there's a strong moral imperative for us to do what we can for people who are in a precarious situation in their housing to keep them in it."

District 10’s Mike Hamby called for greater financial accountability for any organization that receives federal funding through ACC. He recommended that each organization publish monthly financial reports to the public.

"We can move forward with with making sure anybody that gets any federal dollars or state dollars that there is some some transparency [about] where those dollars are heading," Hamby said. "We do with our budget, we do it with SPLOST, we ought to be doing it with anything that comes our way."

Commissioner Ovita Thornton was the sole vote against the measure.

Olympic Drive development postponed again

Also at last night’s meeting, commissioners kicked the can down the road on a proposed townhouse development on Olympic Drive.

Commissioners expressed concern over the developer’s verbal promise to make 10% of their properties accessible to low-income Athenians by keeping rental prices within 60% of average median income (AMI). District 9’s Ovita Thornton offered to work with the developer in creating a Commission Defined Option (CDO) that would reflect the developer’s promise.

Martin Matheny is WUGA's Program Director and a host and producer of our local news program 'Athens News Matters.' He started at WUGA in 2012 as a part-time classical music host and still hosts WUGA's longest-running local program 'Night Music' which is heard on WUGA and GPB Classical. He lives in Normaltown with his wife, Shaye and dog, Murphy.