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Lack of awareness about housing assistance in some neighborhoods

(January 13, 2011 / WRDW-TV)

News 12 This Morning at 6 o'clock / Thursday, January 13, 2011

AUGUSTA, Ga --- The lack of affordable housing plagues many of Augusta's neighborhoods. That need in some areas is met slowly through housing and urban development programs, and other non-profits.

Some of those groups say there are not enough applicants signing up for help. When you think about people struggling to make ends meet, that face may include your neighbor or co-worker, and some people just aren't aware that they qualify for some of the help that's out there.

Single mom Chasity Anderson fell on some hard times. "Well I was unemployed up until my daughter was three or four months old," she said.

With no high school diploma she was in the process of getting her G.E.D.

"It was very hard," Anderson explained. "It's a big kick in the pride when you need to ask for help."

Asking for help was her only choice though. "We have a number of families that are within a week or a month of their paycheck and on the brink of losing their home," said Pastor Kelly McKnight, who lives in the Harrisburg neighborhood.

McKnight says affordable housing isn't just an issue in his Harrisburg neighborhood, where less than 30% of the people own homes. He calls it a city wide problem.

So he's teaming up with the Fuller Center for Housing to remodel run down homes and move families like the Anderson's in them.

"We will help them financially, the loan is interest free," McKnight added.

Along with a low down payment, an agreement to help keep up the look of the property, and a small but steady income the program doesn't ask much for return, but the number of applications are almost non-existent.

McKnight thinks some do not want to deal with the hassle and red tape. He explains, "I don't want to take that shot at my self esteem. I don't want to feel bad about myself. I don't want to disappoint my children anymore, and they just give up."

The group will help you find a place to rent if your dream isn't to own a home. Anderson feels it's better to take your chances and ask for the help.

"When you have a baby it's very difficult to do that. It's by no means easier, with the resource there, people willing to help. I'm not gonna say it's made it 100 percent easier," Anderson said. "But took a lot of the stress away. "

There are 6 houses they have lined up ready to put families in them. McKnight and the folks with the Fuller Program say they'll work with your income level, but you have to take the first step and apply. If this is something that interests you, give them a call at 706-736-1600 and they'll walk you through the process.