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The public attends the Athens City Council meeting in Athens City Hall on Monday, February 3, 2020.

City Council: Emergency funds for rent, mortgage payments to become available during pandemic

Athens City Council discussed Monday creating an emergency funds program to ensure Athens residents can have secure housing during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Through the CARES Act, the city of Athens would grant money to Hocking Athens Perry Community Action, or HAPCAP. Applicants could then receive a one-month payment from HAPCAP to prevent possible eviction or mortgage default. 

“This program is really designed to help people who are unable to pay housing-related costs from this crisis,” Councilmember Sam Crowl, D-3rd Ward, said.

Those applying would have to provide proof of lost work hours, a lost job or other financial struggle in addition to documentation of a past-due mortgage or rent payment in order to secure funds, Crowl said. 

Funds for the grant are capped at $25,000, but Mayor Steve Patterson said that number could possibly be doubled depending on how the program goes.

Councilwoman Beth Clodfelter, D-At Large, said the program is an excellent idea. She thinks it will not only benefit citizens, but the city as a whole, as hopefully the payments will prevent people from moving out of Athens.

“I think that … it's not only kind and generous, but it's a smart investment in the health and the population of our community, and I hope that that money will go as far as possible,” she said.

In addition to emergency funds, Athens will see more free COVID-19 testing. 

Patterson said he spoke with Gov. Mike DeWine on Monday and requested more free pop-up testing. He told the governor that Athens has a large student population, and more testing will be necessary when students return to campus in August and September.

Athens will have COVID-19 testing through the Ohio Department of Health on Aug. 7. Anyone may receive a test between 1 p.m. and 6 p.m. at Athens High School. No appointment or healthcare provider referral is necessary, Patterson said.


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