Congressman wants answers on problems at Bon Air Apartments
AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) - After previously expressing concern about living conditions at Augusta’s Bon Air Apartments, U.S. Rep. Rick Allen is stepping up the pressure on the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.
He sent a letter to HUD Secretary Marcia Fudge renewing calls for immediate action regarding the deteriorating living and building conditions at the Bon Air.
“A housing issue of this magnitude will have no easy answers, but the Bon Air residents have waited far too long for owners and management to step up and address these critical issues,” he wrote. “It is beyond time for all partners involved in providing safe and affordable housing at this location to take action.”
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Over the past year, Allen has written to HUD on multiple occasions to inquire about conditions at the Bon Air as well as Redwood Housing Partners’ plans to acquire the proper funding for renovations.
Allen visited the site with HUD staff and Redwood Housing Partners in September to receive an update on Redwood’s financing plans and to answer questions about residents’ complaints.
He notes in his letter than Redwood had applied for grants but said it had a contingency plan to move forward with proposed renovations and enhancements with its own funding. He said Redwood promised that renovations would be underway, regardless of funding source, beginning in the first half of 2023.
In March, Allen learned that Redwood didn’t get the grants it applied. At a follow-up meeting with Redwood that same month, he says he was told it would be months before redwood could provide a renovation plan, let alone start renovations.
READ THE LETTER:
“This update was not what they shared with me — or your staff — in September of 2022,” Allen wrote to Fudge. “We were made a promise in good faith that they had backup funds secured and secondary renovation plans set, when in reality they are still currently gathering sources of credit, have not procured permits, and are putting together an alternate renovation plan, which we have yet to receive, that will not begin until the latter half of 2023, at the earliest.”
In the meantime, conditions have not improved at the Bon Air, Allen says. He says residents have told his staff of unsafe living conditions including rat and bedbug infestations, common areas smelling of urine, gunshots at the property and more.
Among other things, Allen asks Fudge to explain what oversight the agency plans to take, whether the agency ensured Redwood had the funding for maintenance and improvements when the company got a HUD contract, what recourse HUD has against Redwood and how often inspections have been made.
He gave Fudge a deadline of March 23 to provide documentation and requested a briefing on the process, next steps and to answer additional questions.
“Finally, I ask that HUD representatives return to Augusta to once again tour the property with me and hold a roundtable with local residents and stakeholders,” Allen wrote.
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