Residents Hope to Save their Homes
The Columbia Housing Authority has been talking about demolishing and revitalizing the area for two years, which may not actually be necessary. The current plans would push residents who live in the public housing out. Residents only recently found out they faced eviction, even though the plan has been in the works for two years.
Park Avenue resident Anna Belle Trumbo isn't sure she'll have a place to go when the decision is finally made. She likes where she lives and is concerned about the future.
"Yes I am, I don't know where we'll go and if we have to pay our own rent," said Trumbo.
The entire area of Park Avenue from 7th Street to Providence is facing renovation, which includes Columbia's only soup kitchen. Grass Roots Organizing, or GRO, came out with residents Sunday to hold an open house of the neighborhood.
"There is nothing in writing about what is going to go up, or really that any of these residents could come back here, that the rent would stay the same, or that they could find housing anywhere," said GRO volunteer Linda Green. "One problem is that low income housing is so scarce."
They want residents to get a say in what will happen to their homes.
"There is a difference between not wanting to, and being afraid to," explained GRO board of directors member Lana Wiseman. "And I honestly believe in my heart that a lot of these people are afraid to speak out..they will be, their homes are at stake."
Plans considered for the renovation include spending millions of dollars to either fix up apartments, or tear them all down. They might also rebuild and add some retail structures.
The Columbia Housing Authority meets on Thursday, October 6, at the Blind Boone Center from 1:00 to 3:00pm to make the final decision for the fate of the area. None of the options under review allows residents to stay in their homes, but residents hope they'll delay the decision and look over options that allow them to stay. The meeting is open to the public.