South Augusta neighbors concerned about proposed public housing

By: Jonathan Martin Email
By: Jonathan Martin Email

March 13, 2007

AUGUSTA, Ga.---Augusta's Housing Authority has some big plans for land off Deans Bridge Road near Bobby Jones Expressway, including building public housing.

Neighbors in that area say it would drive down their property values and bring in more crime.

Over five thousand people in Augusta are on the waiting list for public housing, so there's definitely a need for it.

The housing authority has purchased the land off Deans Bridge, and they plan on building some public housing beginning next year.

But folks who live in new homes around the area don't like it.

Peace and quiet is what Benjamin and Peggy Harris say they love about their new neighborhood--but they're not crazy about plans to add public housing nearby.

"With those teenagers coming in here, you'd be scared to come out the door, you know," Peggy said.

Their commissioner, Calvin Holland, is also concerned. He met with leaders in District 5 today, discussing a strategy to fight the Housing Authority's development plans...plans he says could cripple his community.

"We don't want anyone to think they can come and put public housing in our area and leave us holding the bag with our property being devaluated," Holland said.

Richard Arfman, development director for Augusta's Housing Authority, tells News 12 Holland and many southside neighbors are misinformed.

"They think we're going to develop a project like Gilbert Manor and build a new Gilbert Manor on the site," he said. "That is not true."

He says only 30 percent of the 130 units will be public housing. The rest, he says, will be mixed income affordable housing. He showed us some of the plans and says it's going to be nice.

"They will be very attractive buildings. They will not be run down," he said. "They're a good program."

Arfman says the new housing is needed because not only is MCG looking to take over where Gilbert Manor currently sits, but five thousand other families are waiting for public housing. He says these homes would elevate low income families by mixing them in with those more well off.

But neighbors still say no.

"I've seen these things happen, but when they finish, it's altogether different," Commissioner Holland said.

"We might have to sign a petition, or whatever it takes," Peggy Harris said. "I'm ready to do it."

Commissioner Holland has been passing a flyer out to his constituents, informing them of a meeting tomorrow night at the Henry Brigham Center...he wants to let them know about this issue.

Arfman says he will also be there to answer questions.

The meeting starts at 6 o'clock tomorrow evening at the Henry Brigham Senior Center on Golden Camp Road.

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