COLUMBUS GA - Booker T Washington demolition is underway and nearing completion. Len Williams of the Columbus Housing Authority says demolition is almost finished with the first half of the property and that the last building should be torn down on Thursday.
Once the lot is cleared they'll begin construction on an apartment building called Columbus Commons. The complex will be 106 units and is projected to open for leasing towards the end of 2016.
The other half of the property, which is on the north side and closes to the Columbus Civic Center, is still being occupied by residents. The housing authority says there are still about 80 families living in the units.
No final move out date has been given as of yet but once demolition begins they will be opening that space for retail business.
Already 300 people have relocated, a process that has been difficult for many.
"Am I going to be able to maintain these bills if I step out there because they don't have no more projects to move to, no more housing, so if you move to this house… am I going to be able to maintain this gas, lights, water and rent?" asked Patricia Stanford.
Patricia is one of the 80 households left in the Booker T Washington Housing Property. She says she lived in BTW when her kids were young but was able to get a house and moved away. It wasn't until she got lung cancer five years ago that she moved back.
She like many other residents are still wondering why they were forced to move in the first place.
"Booker T Washington was over 70 years old, we believe it was the oldest remaining public housing property in Georgia and it was just time for it to be replaced," Williams said.
Williams also said 300 residents have already been relocated.
So what exactly happened to all the residents who were forced to relocate?
"They got their choice basically of applying for the new property, going to existing public housing or taking a housing voucher," Williams explained.
Although Patricia is packing up and getting ready for her move, she says it has not been as easy for her neighbors. The main issue she says, is neighbors with low income trying to come up with a deposit to move.
"You really needed your own money and then they would reimburse you but like I said it was hard because a lot of people don't have $500, because everybody's voucher is different," Patricia said.
We asked the Housing Authority about this concern and he says that they haven't received any complaints.
"Usually the landlord will work with us on that," Williams said.