Athens received funding for affordable housing across the county

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ATHENS, Ohio (WOUB) — Athens County received over $1 million to bring affordable housing across the county for first-time homebuyers.

The plan is to build 13 homes: six in The Plains, three in Albany, three in Nelsonville and one in Glouster, said Aaron Dye, manager of the Athens County Land Bank Reutilization Corp., which received the grant.

Athens County Land Bank has a sign on a Nelsonville house that says revitalization is in progress. The house will be torn down to create new affordable housing.
The Land Bank is revitalizing a home in Nelsonville as part of a project with the Survivor Advocacy Outreach Program. [Alison Patton | WOUB]
Dye said $550,000 of the $1.39 million grant will be used to purchase property in The Plains; $120,000 will be used for constructing four units on Land Bank owned properties in Nelsonville and Glouster; and $720,000 will be used as tax credits for properties in The Plains and Albany. 

The grant came from the Welcome Home Ohio program, which awarded a total of $29.5 million across the state for counties to build new housing. 

There isn’t a set timeline for the projects, said Jen Seifert, executive director of the Survivor Advocacy Outreach Program, which is working with the Land Bank on the project. Once the homes are finished, they will be sold for no more than $180,000.

There will be an application process, and interested applicants must fall within 80% of Athens County’s area median income, Seifert said. Applicants must also have employment and a credit score. 

Seifert said she thinks homeowners have a stronger commitment to maintaining their home. 

“There certainly is the perception that communities that are owner occupied, the people that live in the home, there’s a deeper level of commitment to making sure that that home looks nice and that it’s taken care of,” Seifert said. 

Although the program is still in the beginning stages, Seifert said they hope to partner with Peoples Bank and its Dreams2Keys program, which is geared toward first-time home buyers. 

Seifert said this is a pathway to more than owning a home. 

“For many wage earners, owning a home is one of the few paths to building wealth and equity. And for many people, it’s a sense of stability,” Seifert said. 

Although 13 homes isn’t a lot, Seifert said housing is needed at all levels. 

“We need starter homes, manufactured homes, $300,000 to $400,000 model homes,” Seifert said. “We need it all, and we need it 30 years ago.”