‘Where am I going to live?’: A growing need for affordable housing

Published: Sep. 18, 2023 at 6:35 PM EDT
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AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) - There is a growing need for affordable housing here at home.

Augusta Housing Authority recently reopened the waitlist for section eight housing.

In two days, they had 6,000 applicants, so they immediately closed the waitlist. The 3,000 people who made that list are still waiting for a place to call home.

The need for affordable housing in Augusta is rising faster than contractors can redo spaces like Ervin Towers, but people say these new renovations aren’t coming with an affordable price tag.

“You’re still going to have to run and struggle with where I am going to live, what’s happening with me and my children,” said Garian Henry.

Henry is a previous affordable housing resident and feels affordable housing in Augusta is anything but affordable.

“You have individuals paying $900 a month, $700 a month. I don’t see that being possible. This is public housing we’re talking about, not luxury living. This is public housing for low-income,” said Henry.

According to Zupmer’s National Rent Report, Augusta ranked as the 90th most expensive city to rent.

The price of one-bedroom units in Augusta averages $930, while two-bedroom units are averaging $1,020.

“People want to know, where am I going to lay my head that I can afford,” said Henry.

The Housing Authority says as soon as they find housing for some, the list grows beyond their means to fill.

Douglas Freeman, Deputy Executive Director for the Housing Authority, said: “We generally keep a high 90% occupancy rate in our public housing units. That means that we don’t have a whole lot of excess capacity to put more people in housing.”

For now, they are working with what they’ve got.

Walton Green apartments will soon house 420 units.

“We anticipate occupancy starting in September this month, and should be fully occupied by the middle of next year,” said Freeman.

Ervin Towers is being remodeled one section at a time with people still living in it.

“We’re doing a $24 million renovation of that property right now. It is under construction as we speak. But we only receive $3 to $4 million a year. If that’s a multi-year project that we’re doing in stages, as we receive funding, we add on more floors that will be renovated,” said Freeman.

The Housing Authority says they are getting to the bottom of their list of applicants and will soon be ready to open up their public housing portal again.

For more information on how you can apply, click HERE.