‘When does it end?’: Mom facing homelessness struggles for affordable housing

Published: Feb. 9, 2023 at 6:46 PM EST
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AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) - Affordable housing is an issue in Augusta and around the country.

Some hoped a new development near an old mill would help, but that project seems to be on hold.

We’re talking about the three-and-a-half acres right by King Mill that was supposed to be affordable housing. It’s still an empty space and it’s not good news for people looking for a place to live at a decent price.

“Do I need affordable housing? Heck, yeah,” said Alissa Aukema, a homeless mother.

Her landlord evicted her because she couldn’t pay rent. She’s a mother of four, disabled, and fighting to give her children a better life.

Aukema says affordable housing means everything.

“It gives my kids each room. It gives my kids stability, honor, and integrity. They’ve been through a lot. You don’t want to go through this. I don’t want my kids to go through this,” she said.

With plans like Kendrick Place on pause and the zoning at Windsor Spring denied, she’s left with few options.

“There needs to be affordable housing because these kids are the future of Augusta. So it doesn’t matter what has all this money and all this money, where’s all the money? Is what I want to know,” she said.

Augusta’s Director of Housing and Development Hawthorne Welchers says the demand is far higher than the space available. He says inflation is standing in the way of any developer trying to build.

“One has to do with just the fact of materials when you start talking now the cost of lumber and those things have come down. But there are other costs that have gone up 30, 40%, electrical, plumbing, mechanical, so all of those things have gone up,” he said.

Aukema fears as prices go up and affordable housing projects turn into luxury apartments to foot the building bill, being in a home may never be possible again.

“I’m in the street with my children. I mean, literally in the street outside. That burned down. There’s dog crap everywhere. I can’t even get a room because I can’t afford $80. I mean, like really? When does it end,” she questions.

Hawthorne says his department is working to be very strategic and innovative to figure out what worked years ago and how they can apply it now to give families a safe, affordable place to call home.