South Augusta neighbors meet with Housing Authority on public housing plans

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March 14, 2007

AUGUSTA, Ga.---Neighbors in south Augusta got together at the Henry Brigham Seniors Center tonight to discuss the Augusta Housing Authority's plans to build public housing in their community.

Some of the neighbors say their property values would go down and crime would go up.

The neighbors News 12 spoken with at the meeting say they didn't know until last week that the housing authority had already purchased the 20 acres in south Augusta for this public housing.

While many of the neighbors say it will hurt their community, the authority says it will help.

Jennings Place, Cherry Tree Crossing, Gilbert Manor, and the list goes on. Outside of Atlanta, Augusta has more public housing than any city in Georgia.

Even with over 2700 units here, over one thousand local families are still on the waiting list.

"It's hard to find someplace to live," said Marie Freeman. "I don't have a family to depend on, so where am I supposed to go?"

Now Augusta's Housing Authority plans to build more public housing...and instead of it happening in just lower income areas, they're looking to build in more well off communities.

"Rather than have a high concentration of low income people in a low income area, we're trying to get rid of that whole concept and trying to go to other areas and develop properties," explained Richard Arfman.

The authority's first project is off Dean's Bridge. They've bought the land to build 130 housing units next to new homes there. Some neighbors say it will bring in more crime and drive down property values.

"If anyone is going to be build anything in our community, we want them to compliment the homes that are already built here," said District 5 Commissioner Calvin Holland.

The community has questions...and the housing authority says they have answers that will show why their plans will only benefit the southside.

"I think it will be an asset to the community," Arfman said. "We'd be better to have a well-maintained, high quality community out there than have a vacant lot."

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