I-TEAM: Several hundred families in Aiken could be without housing after Hahn Village's demolition

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Tuesday, Sept.24, 2019
News 12 at 6 O’Clock/NBC at 7

AIKEN, SC (WRDW/WAGT) – About a hundred families may soon be looking for a new place to live. The Aiken Housing Authority has finally submitted an application to the Department of Housing and Urban Development to demolish Hahn Village.

Next up on the list? New Hope Public Housing. But there is a problem -- a big problem.

There are more than 240 public housing units in the county. The authority wants to eventually get rid of public housing and give those living there tenant protection vouchers. But here's the problem: there isn't enough landlords who will accept the vouchers.

The elderly, disabled, and the poorest of the poor live in Hahn Village, which is home to more than 240 families in Aiken County.

The closure of the complex inches closer each day.

The Aiken Housing Authority plans to eventually relocate everyone living in public housing.

"We will move forward with new hope and the others after this process,” said one member of the authority during a recent meeting.

The more than 240 people living in public housing will get a tenant protection voucher -- similar to a tenant Section 8 Voucher. The voucher works like a rent coupon. The tenant just has to find a landlord who will accept the voucher.

Here's problem: a housing voucher is no good if no one will accept. Currently there are 126 families with vouchers in Aiken County. None of them can find landlords who will accept their vouchers.

The board realizes there's about to be an even bigger problem if they can't get landlords into the Section 8 program.

"We are going to have a whole bunch of people vacating public housing,” one board member said. “There is business to be had out there, folks. You better jump on the bandwagon early."

To do that, landlords have to fill out an application with Aiken Public Housing Authority. The authority conducts an inspection of their property to make sure it’s safe. Once it passes, the authority lists the property for rent. The authority mails a check to the landlord every month once a tenant with a voucher signs a lease.

"The relocation may take a year, depends on how soon we can get tenants, the units boarded up,” said one board member. “It's a process even after the approval."

"They will be prepared and we will work with them,” another board member said. “None of the residents will be homeless."

HUD could still deny the authority's application to demolish Hahn Village. Even if it is approved, it could take months even years to tear it down. One reason? They don't have the money in the budget to demolish it.

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