Ashland's only subsidized housing ends

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ASHLAND - Ashland's only subsidized housing is being bought out and a loan is in the process of being prepaid, which means residents may have to decide whether or not they will move or stay put. 

The USDA Rural Development agency met with residents of Ashwood Manor Apartments Friday and told them the complex is being bought, and gave them a few options for what to do next. 

A USDA official said the prepayment request has not been fully processed yet, but if it does residents have two options to get protection:

  • Letter of priority entitlement: Residents could take the letter to any other subsidized housing or housing authorities and go straight to the top of their waiting list.
  • Voucher program: The USDA will go out and do a survey to see what it costs to rent comparable properties and offer a voucher to make the price the same they are paying now.

Residents need to stay at the apartments until the day of the sale so they are eligible for the options. 

Government subsidized housing offers reduced rents to low-income tenants. Thomas said the waiting list for government housing can be long. 

The original owner of the complex asked the USDA for permission to to pay off their USDA loan ahead of schedule. The USDA granted the owner permission, and a USDA representative was present at the meeting to clear up any confusion about the process. 

The new owner also spoke at the meeting and said he wants the residents to stay in their homes and will work with the residents. 

One of those residents, Eileen Thomas, said, "My rent is based off of what I get every month, which isn't much because I live on Social Security."

Karen Forbis said she lived out of a suitcase for almost a year before moving into the complex a few months ago. She said she thanks God for government housing, but she does not want to have to move to Columbia or Jefferson City because her family is in Ashland. 

"If it wasn't for the subsidy I don't know what I'd do, and I know several people here that would have a lot of trouble," Forbis said. 

Residents received a letter from the USDA May 19 telling them about the meeting and about the USDA's loan prepayment request. 

"USDA would like to know your opinion about this payoff request. We would like to know what you think the effect of paying off the loan would be on you, other tenants in the apartments, other people in the community, and any minorities living in the apartments and in the community," the letter stated.

Thomas and Forbis said the residents share a real sense of community.

"There's a lot of good people who live here, and I don't want to see them out in the street," Forbis said.