Athens City Council met Monday to discuss new housing for low-income families in the Athens community.

Joseph McCabe, vice president of development for Woda, a real estate company, addressed the Council after meeting with the Affordable Housing Commision to propose the annexation of about 25 acres on Luhrig Road for affordable housing for low-income families in Athens.

The investment is over $21 million for building over 100 units, McCabe said. This could be for one, two and three bedroom units, depending on the household income of the occupants, which can range from about $15,000 to $60,000 of household income.

Woda is planning on incorporating transportation services, and more eco-friendly housing, McCabe said.

“We'll be doing this as a LEED certified development,” McCabe said. “And again, I think I've actually spoken as well to the transportation folks, and we're looking to integrate public transit and having a stop integrated project as well so we're rather excited.”

The council also discussed increasing funding to the community center.

Sam Crowl, D-3rd ward, informed the Council that the community center is in need of $20,000, in order to be able to pay its staff and cover worker’s compensation.

Crowl also addressed the addition of the Fringe Benefit Package for non-union workers in the meeting.

The Fringe Benefit Package supplies workers with compensation and amenities outside of their normal salary or wage. 

“I think it's really important for people to understand that non-union employees are just as important for our city and the function of our city,” Chris Fahl, D-4th ward, said. “Traditionally, non-union employees have been the administrative assistants and tended to be the female part of the employee, while unions were more of the male part of the employees, and the city of Athens has been really good about making sure that the non-union employees are represented.”

Mayor Steve Patterson discussed with the Council about the Cares Act Funding during the COVID-19 pandemic. There were three rounds of funding given to Athens that have gone toward mortgage and rent relief, safety services and virtual programming for services in Athens.

“It has been as you're aware, the funding that we allocated to Hocking-Athens-Perry Community Action for rent and mortgage relief, or city utility relief,” Patterson said. “It has gone to equipment, where before COVID-19, the government channel and other buildings, other community centers or, most notably the Arts West hasn't had equipment to do virtual programming but under COVID-19, we found that we have to do virtual programming out of those facilities and so there have been expenses related to that as well.”

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