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Homes for the Future

March 28, 2012

When Athens residents want to purchase affordable housing instead of renting, Athens Land Trust is there to help. Ben Walters of Silver & Archibald, LLP, volunteered his time to help others make the dream of owning a home a reality.

Athens Land Trust’s (ALT) affordable housing program is a nonprofit organization that provides affordable housing by offering low monthly payments and a 99-year renewable ground lease for the land. The ALT homeowner has full use of the land and can pass the home to their children just like any other homeowner. But if the homeowner decides to sell the house, ALT will buy the house back from them or help them find another low to moderate income family or individual to purchase the home.

“My time at ALT was spent working to introduce legislation that would give ALT homeowners the same tax advantages as any other homeowner,” said Ben Walters, ALT volunteer and Silver & Archibald associate. “Our hard work was finally realized when voters approved the measure in the fall of 2010.”

Athens has seen a reduction in crime and an increase in rejuvenated neighborhoods thanks to the work of Athens Land Trust’s affordable housing program. The uniqueness and character of Athens is also maintained because the Athens Land Trust chooses to restore and rehabilitate historic homes.  ALT has won a number of awards from the Athens-Clarke Heritage Foundation in recognition of its historically sensitive renovations and infill projects.

“We see ourselves as a resource for the entire community by looking at land use in an equitable manner. Providing affordable homeownership opportunities brings stability to families and results in healthier neighborhoods,” said Heather Benham, Director of ALT.

In addition to providing affordable housing, ALT has numerous supportive services for residents, such as employment programs, homeownership counseling, resident involvement in decision making, a safety program, and tenant counseling. The group also offers community enrichment in partnership with many local agencies and businesses through computer classes, financial management seminars, and residents association meetings.