Only on 12: Housing authority turning away thousands

By: Jonathan Martin
By: Jonathan Martin

August 3, 2006

Thousands of Augusta families are in need of public housing.

But in a story you'll see only on 12, Jonathan Martin explains why Augusta's Housing Authority is having to turn those families away.

The Augusta area is full of low-income families needing affordable housing.

So many, in fact, there's not enough room to accommodate even half of them.

It's a frustrating fact for Marie Freeman. She's one of dozens waiting at the Augusta Housing Authority seeking assistance...only to be turned away.

"It's a lot of people that need help and can't get the help, and don't have no place to go," she says. "And they still have more people on the waiting list, they're not helping anybody and there's no place to turn to but churches and shelters."

"I'm out working," says Marquis Johnson. "I'm out trying to make a living. I'm just having problems with a place to live because it's expensive."

Because a growing number of low income families in Augusta are looking for Section 8 and public homes, every available unit is occupied, and the waiting list is longer than it's ever been.

"Currently we have about eight thousand people on the waiting list," says Sirena Rogers of the Augusta Housing Authority.

And what heightens the frustration for many of the folks here is not just the fact that the waiting list is full, but that it's closed and officials don't know when it will open up again.

Rogers says they've had to turn away thousands...and with a government cap placed on HUD vouchers and the amount of public housing that can be built, she says there's no other choice.

"The legislature doesn't allow us to build anymore public housing units, and that's through Congress."

For now, these families can only hope for housing and wait for word.

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

"It's like you still turned down every corner you go," Marquis says.

There are eight thousand people on the housing waiting list.

There is also a waiting list for families needing emergency assistance.

That list is also closed, and those people are being given a list of churches and shelters to call.

Mailing Address: P.O. Box 1212 Augusta, GA 30903 Main Telephone: (803) 278-1212 Newsroom: (803) 278-3111 Fax: (803) 442-4561
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