Construction Complete On Supportive Housing Project In Athens

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After more than two years of planning and gathering funds, a new "supportive housing project" off East State Street is ready for families.

Integrated Services of Appalachian Ohio unveiled its family housing unit on Graham Drive with a ceremony this morning.

The organization built the residence to accommodate families with disabled or mentally ill members.

The multiplex will house four families. Half of the units will have two bedrooms and the other two will have three.

Residents and members of the community gathered to celebrate the addition to the neighborhood.

Ellie Griffin resides next to the housing unit.

"Everything's close and the children can go swimming. The pool is nearby. I mean, there couldn't be a better place than Graham Drive," she said.

But the decision to build the project comes after nearly a year of controversy. Some residents of the neighborhood feel that Integrated Services violated zoning laws in their decision to build the unit.

Residents on the street, some of them members of the opposition group SAFEST, declined to comment on the opening of the complex.

Integrated Services Executive Director Kevin Gillespie says the organization chose Graham Drive because of its proximity to their main office, as well as East State Street shopping and dining resources.

"It's an in-town neighborhood with easy access to everything you need to be successful in life and in addition to that — entertainment, restaurants, good access to entry level employment," Gillespie said.

Betsy Pierson, president of the Integrated Services board says the group worked to make sure the unit fit in with the architecture of the houses around it.

"I think it actually improved the neighborhood. I wish we could see before and after pictures because this was modular housing when we purchased it and it's amazing that they could put this much substantial housing on the footprint," said Pierson

The project is currently empty.  The group says individuals must meet income, disability and homelessness requirements to reside in the housing unit,  and says they will work with Good Works and My Sister's Place to find eligible candidates.