COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - With two families reeling from the death of their loved ones and several hundred residents wondering where their next home will be, the Columbia Housing Authority is working to try and remedy the host of problems that followed after carbon monoxide and other deadly gasses were found on the property.
At a meeting Wednesday, CHA board members said the biggest hurdle they’ve faced in the process of rehousing residents is finding affordable options.
“We’re going to do everything in our power to make this as seamless as possible,” said CHA executive director Gilbert Walker.
The housing authority is offering residents the choice of staying in Columbia Public Housing or moving to Section 8 housing with a voucher. But board members said there aren’t many affordable housing options for residents to choose from.
“There is a tremendous shortage of one bedroom apartments in Richland County,” Walker said. “It’s almost non-existent.”
The board says residents can opt to have the housing authority help them move their belongings or they can accept a one-time payment to do it themselves. Those payments range from $1,095 to $1,575 depending on the size of the unit.
But folks who have been following this story said there was a cheaper solution.
“They’re paying more than they would have had to pay if they’d done the right thing from the beginning,” said Clinton Dixon, a HUD resident.
Just looking at the moving payments, at the lowest possible amount, covering the moving expenses for all the units would be about $267,180. Whereas, purchasing carbon monoxide detectors before all this happened would have only been about $8,540.
Many in this community said it’s all too little, too late.
“It’s sad. It’s a sad time. Those lives can’t come back. Those lives are gone forever,” Dixon said.
The housing authority is still putting a call out to all landlords in the area who may be willing to accept those Section 8 vouchers.