ReNew Athens

ReNew Athens

ReNew Athens is an adaptive reuse program that creates affordable housing options for low income individuals through the environmentally conscious renovation of existing multifamily units.

ReNew Athens, based on the Habitat for Humanity model for single family homes, leverages volunteer labor and community partnerships to create improved housing opportunities for families who earn close to minimum wage, so that this currently underserved income bracket can benefit from a stable housing situation, while taking part in a community project that will revitalize the Athens Area.

From Neglected Rentals to Working Neighborhoods

ReNew Athens is an initiative whose mission is the adaptive reuse of unproductive and neglected multi-family units into renter-occupied neighborhoods. Athens’ 40-plus year history of the development and construction of student oriented apartment complexes has left a legacy of aged and deteriorating multi-family rental units. As newer and better student-oriented apartments are constructed, students migrate away from the original developments and concentrate in newer units with better amenities. This leaves many older units vacant, which drives down rental rates, property values, and tax revenues. The reuse and rehabilitation of these units and the revival of these areas is a critical goal for Athens.

Athens has a greater than 28% poverty rate, with many of the impoverished living in substandard, dilapidated units. A universally recognized strategy for breaking the cycle of poverty is housing stability. Following the Habitat for Humanity model, ReNew Athens acquires existing multi-family rental units, rehabilitates those units, and rents the “ReNewed” housing to qualifying low income individuals.

The volunteer labor used to rehabilitate the units makes the most efficient use of all state and federal dollars and leverages the public investment to the greatest benefit to the community. Resulting rents are then pooled into a revolving fund which in turn is used to build new homes, and current renters are afforded the opportunity to become home owners as their incomes increase.