The Post - Athens

From November 2012 to November 2013, I worked as a beat report for Ohio University's student newspaper The Post. I mainly focused on Athens City Council and covered stories on local energy, transit, housing, and construction projects. 

City earns grant to renovate house on Richland Ave for low-income families

By Cassie Kelly | October 9, 2013

The city of Athens received a $75,000 Community Development Block Grant from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to renovate 458 Richland Ave., a city-owned house, for low-to-moderate-income families.

The city will provide $5,610 in cost share to make the house accessible for people with disabilities.

The Athens Metropolitan Housing Authority will be renting out the house and Executive Director Keith Andrews said the rent would not be more than 30 percent of the new homeowners’ income.

The Authority operates 71 units of public housing in Athens, but only two of the houses are certified by the Americans with Disabilities Act checklist.

Andrews said they plan to make their houses accessible for their clients’ needs with no cost to them.

Public housing benefits cities like Athens because it reduces poverty levels by making the rent affordable, according to Andrews.

“We manage our properties very well for the city of Athens,” said Andrews.           

Steve Patterson, D-At Large, said he has been pushing for the Richland Avenue house to be certified by the American Disabilities Act and he hopes to give the house a “universal design” with wheelchair accessibility.

“I want to make sure that we are an all-inclusive city and that we are accommodating,” said Patterson.

Patterson added that according to the act’s certification guidelines, everything from the width of the doors to the height of the windows must be adjusted.

“You could have a 4-year-old not be able to open a door because it’s too heavy. But, you could also have an 80-year-old grandmother or spouse who, because of a disease or disability, may have difficulty opening that door,” Patterson said. “It gives equal access to everybody.”

Patterson said he hopes to have a family living in the house within a year.

Since 2002, Athens Fire Department Station 2 was using the house for storage to secure land for a possible expansion, Athens Mayor Paul Wiehl said. But the plan ultimately fell through.

“My administration has been committed to providing diversity of housing when possible,” Wiehl said.

Read the original story in The Post, here