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What are the public housing goals after the demolition of Dogwood?

Published: May. 13, 2022 at 6:24 PM EDT
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AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) - We’ve reported on Augusta’s plans to demolish a public housing complex.

We’re following up on what will happen to the 235 families who live at Dogwood Terrace Apartments.

The idea behind demolishing Dogwood Terrace is very similar to what happened to Cherry Tree Crossing. It’s an empty field now, but soon it’ll be more affordable housing.

After years of repairs and renovations, the Housing Authority tore down Cherry Tree Crossing before 2016.

“Cherry Tree got to the point where it was no longer cost-effective to continue to try to renovate it,” said Douglas Freeman, deputy director, Augusta Housing Authority.

They made a plan to build new public housing, Section 8, and low-income options. Phase two is complete. Walton Green is housing for seniors, and phase three is now in the works.

“I would say over the next two years we’ll be complete with all the construction out there,” he said.

Now their eyes are shifting elsewhere.

We asked if that’s similar to what’s happening with Dogwood.

Freeman: “That’s the exact same thing that’s going on with Dogwood.”

The plan is to build better housing at Dogwood Terrace.

If the first public housing units of phase three are completed by early next year as expected, some people living in Dogwood might get to call them home.

If not, they’ll move into other public housing units with vacancies. Section 8 residents might have more difficulty finding a new home. Section 8 availability has been a challenge because of rising rent costs. Even with the voucher, the rent is high.

At the start of the pandemic, the Section 8 lease success rate dropped from 70% to 40%.

“What we’re starting to see over the last three or four months is a slow uptick or an increase in the success rate,” he said.

They expect market trends to improve by next year. The new housing will help too.

The new units at the old site of Cherry Tree will be available at the end of the year or early next year. If Dogwood is demolished, next summer as expected, it’ll take three to five years to redevelop that area.

“We want to continue that tradition. We want to make somewhere that people want to live, not where people necessarily have to live because they have no choice,” said Freeman.

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