Housing crisis arrives in Augusta

By: Chris Thomas Email
By: Chris Thomas Email

News 12 at 6 o'clock, November 11, 2008

AUGUSTA, Ga.---The housing crisis has arrived in Augusta. The federal government will funnel more than $2 million into local areas hardest hit by foreclosures.

Little Aaron Epperly recently lost his father.

"It's just stuff like that tears you apart," said Lewis Epperly who is Aaron's grandfather.

Lewis says the loss is especially tough as the family was expecting a new baby. Now a grieving mother faces a difficult economy alone.

"She doesn't know if she going to be able to handle those high payments," said Lewis.

Many families have lost the budget battle. There are 142 foreclosures in Augusta. 95 of those are in Aaron's south Augusta neighborhood.

"This is a crisis," said Hawthorne Welcher, Jr. who is assistant director of housing. "But at the same time we've jumped on it."

It's no slam dunk but community and housing development insists they have a game-plan.

2.4 million dollars in federal funds will allow the city to step in and buy foreclosed property and bring in a staff to manage what is being called the Neighborhood Stabilization Plan.

It is intended to send prices sliding down so that families can afford to continue owning...or possibly renting property.

"I think it's a good thing," said Lewis.

Lewis says everyone's counting their pennies including Aaron.

"He took some change and put in a plastic bag and buried it in the backyard and he said he was going to see if his daddy would come down and put some dollar bills in it," said Lewis.

You know where this story is going. Grandad to the rescue.

"He went out there and dug the bag up. The change was gone. Dollar bills were in there," said Lewis. "He looked up and said thank you, daddy."

So will this rescue plan work? About $200,000 of that $2.4 million has been set aside for families who need assistance. But there's a $20,000 thousand dollar limit per family.

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