Final Cherry Tree Crossing residents reflect

All but 2 tenants gone from public housing complex

Sunday, May 11, 2014 5:33 PM
Last updated Monday, May 12, 2014 2:00 AM
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Surrounded by the skeleton of a neighborhood that had fallen eerily silent, Betty Crawford marked her last night in Cherry Tree Crossing by playing music and letting memories of the good times roll into the abyss of one of Augusta’s most storied public housing projects.

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Betty Crawford removes belongings from her home in Cherry Tree Crossing, where she had lived for three years. She is one of the last to move out of the complex, set to be demolished in June.  TODD BENNETT/STAFF
TODD BENNETT/STAFF
Betty Crawford removes belongings from her home in Cherry Tree Crossing, where she had lived for three years. She is one of the last to move out of the complex, set to be demolished in June.

Laughing children, roughhousing teenagers and chatty neighbors vanished gradually, packing belongings into moving trucks and finding new homes across the city. Reluctant to leave her one-bedroom apartment at Cherry Tree, Crawford stayed to nearly the end before saying her final farewell to the complex on 15th Street on Wednesday.

The final two tenants will turn the key for the last time this week, barring any unforeseen problems in the relocation process.

The Augusta Housing Au­thor­ity began relocating 355 families last September in preparation for demolishing the housing project built in 1939 as one of the nation’s first government housing complexes.

A modern, mixed-income apartment complex will be built in its place, a model widely used across the nation but only the second of its kind in Au­gusta. The housing authority replaced Underwood Homes on Sand Bar Ferry Road
with the Walton Oaks complex in 2012.

“Nobody wants it to go ’cause we’re so used to having it here,” Crawford said. “I said I was gonna be the last one. I felt real comfortable here. I really did.”

Crawford, 55, lived in Cherry Tree for three years and grew up near T.W. Josey High School, not far from the housing project. Her mother walked her through the complex – known as Sunset Homes until 1993 – to visit the doctor and attend church.

Cherry Tree’s proximity to a bus stop, grocery store and doctors’ offices was a convenience Crawford will miss at her new apartment. Like a majority of former Cherry Tree tenants, she is using a Section 8 housing voucher instead of moving to another public housing complex.

Elischa Scott, who moved into Sunset Homes when she was 15 months old, remembers the neighborhood before violence and crime became a regular event. She slept with the door unlocked until she began to fear for her safety.

Scott left Cherry Tree during the last week of April after 47 years of calling it home. As the complex emptied out and she searched for a new home, she stayed to the near end only because friends on streets bordering Cherry Tree looked out for her.

“I tried to stay so I could get a place where I wanted to go,” she said. “It was quiet and it was really scary.”

The windows of units were boarded up as each unit was vacated. Streets that used to teem with people were deserted last week,
except for housing authority trucks passing through collecting refrigerators from units.

Scott knows she will never move back to the streets where she lived nearly her entire life. She doesn’t think she will be able to afford rent at the new apartments targeting low-income individuals and families.

Demolition of the barrack-style brick buildings at Cher­ry Tree is scheduled to begin in mid- to late June, said Richard Arfman, the housing authority’s director of planning and development.

“It could take eight to nine months to complete,” he said.

The housing authority will apply for tax credits to build the new complex, likely starting the first of four phases in the fall of 2015.

As Cherry Tree residents dispersed, Crawford, who is moving into the same apartment complex as Scott, served as a send-off committee wishing her old friends well in their new homes. She still talks to some of her closest friends on the phone daily but concedes that Cherry Tree was a tight-knit community she won’t find again.

Her new home is “never gonna take the place of this,” she said.

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Just My Opinion
6306
Points
Just My Opinion 05/11/14 - 06:48 pm
12
5
Interesting that some people

Interesting that some people can romanticize a place where most of society would avoid like the plague! I remember Sunset Homes being like a warzone back in the early 70's when they imposed forced bussing for integration. For the first couple of weeks going to and leaving Collins, our bus was routinely pelted with rocks, pine cones, sticks, and one time a big branch! Yeah, good times, good times! Oh, well...I hope better times are ahead for these people.

KSL
145000
Points
KSL 05/12/14 - 04:35 am
23
6
Moved in at 15 months and

Moved in at 15 months and called it home for 47 years. That my friends, is a great example of the failure of our public assistance. 46 years ago, I was fortunate to be trained in social work by DEFACS. That training never included the idea that recipients would forever more be recipients of government assistance, unless they were so elderly or infirm or disabled.

She has had 47 years to begin and complete her steps to self sufficiency. What the heck happened?

I do not blame her, though she is in part responsible. I blame the vote buying Democrats lije LBJ, who admitted as much.

Riverman1
94467
Points
Riverman1 05/12/14 - 05:45 am
12
3
Next Door to Dichotomy

She waited them out until they found her a house she wanted. They probably just gave up with her and gave her what she wanted so they can tear the place down. So these Section 8's went all over the county? Did one of them end up next door to Dichotomy?

southern2
7939
Points
southern2 05/12/14 - 06:00 am
13
4
Wow...how nice can we get. If

Wow...how nice can we get. If we build it, they will come.

Nothing like being forced to fork over the dough for NEW, modern homes for these generational recipients. Surely wouldn't want them to experience any discomfort in their plight.

Opponents shall be deemed with the Scarlet R.

nocnoc
49787
Points
nocnoc 05/12/14 - 06:48 am
9
2
Have always wonders

Just how many ARC/CC Section 8's resulted from this project closure.

An if there is any data on Crime and it relationship to Section 8'ing in Ga.?

nocnoc
49787
Points
nocnoc 05/12/14 - 06:55 am
8
3
Regarding those that will miss the Ghetto

Stockholm Syndrome

Look it up if you don't already know it.

seenitB4
98779
Points
seenitB4 05/12/14 - 07:12 am
13
4
So what really changed?

Moved to another section 8 house...maybe near YOU!!

The difference is another location with the same needs--wants--habits...only the neighbors will feel the pain.

raul
5786
Points
raul 05/12/14 - 07:20 am
15
4
A 47 year resident of Cherry

A 47 year resident of Cherry Tree. And these are the people to whom wealth (other people's money) is to be redistributed. Really?

Marinerman1
5499
Points
Marinerman1 05/12/14 - 08:23 am
9
2
47 Years....!! REALLY ??!!

I shake my head. Sickenly sad...

Pops
14947
Points
Pops 05/12/14 - 08:36 am
11
3
Elischa Scott, who moved into Sunset Homes when

she was 15 months old, remembers the neighborhood before violence and crime became a regular event. She slept with the door unlocked until she began to fear for her safety."

I remember reading the old Augusta Herald in the sixties.....Sunset Homes was written about a lot....shootings, stabbings, robberies......

GiantsAllDay
10562
Points
GiantsAllDay 05/12/14 - 09:33 am
13
2
What is a "modern,

What is a "modern, mixed-income apartment complex", anyway? I'm just speaking for myself but I wouldn't want to live in an apartment and pay rent and have some of my neighbors live there for free. It just seems like it would be bad for morale.

edcushman
7930
Points
edcushman 05/12/14 - 09:41 am
13
3
This is what the Great
Unpublished

This is what the Great Society, liberals, democrats and black leaders have created. Generation after generation of leaches.

Sweet son
11793
Points
Sweet son 05/12/14 - 11:22 am
4
5
Gone but not fortotten!

Underwood Homes, Cherry Tree Crossing/Sunset Homes and Gilbert Manor were good places to live at one time for a lot of folks. Clientele ruined them for the good tenants and made them unlivable for many.

Sad to see them go!

jimmymac
48086
Points
jimmymac 05/12/14 - 03:42 pm
0
0
MOOCHERS
Unpublished

If the dems had their way more would be on the dole for life like these moochers. People taking everything and contributing nothing but crime and generational poverty. Why work when someone else will pay for your very existence.

willie7
1047
Points
willie7 05/12/14 - 05:57 pm
0
0
A lot of these people aren't
Unpublished

A lot of these people aren't so called Leeches. Some of them work for nursing homes , WalMart, McDonald's,and hotel maids. They pay rent based on income.

KSL
145000
Points
KSL 05/12/14 - 06:45 pm
5
1
What has been done to public

What has been done to public housing is now being done to neighborhoods.

KSL
145000
Points
KSL 05/12/14 - 06:54 pm
4
1
The problem lies with the

The problem lies with the government agencies, local, state, and federal. Just had an experience with one I used to work for.Totally unreal.

cj52111
36
Points
cj52111 05/13/14 - 08:54 am
0
0
Better watch it JMO

Be careful, last person that referred to "you people", your words - "these people" got pelted with paintballs on an Altell commercial.

bohica
483
Points
bohica 05/13/14 - 06:03 pm
0
0
AC how about my account,

AC how about my account, unlock it
My comments are cleaner than 99%

Sean Moores
702
Points
Sean Moores 05/14/14 - 08:05 am
0
0
Comment problems

We are experiencing technical difficulties with our online comments again today. I've put in a ticket to get it fixed, but I haven’t heard anything back yet. I hope to have this fixed soon.

Some of our commenters are getting emails saying their comments are being held for moderation. I’m releasing them as often as possible, but I can’t watch it constantly, especially after hours. I know it’s frustrating. The comments are getting posted; it is just taking a little while.

I apologize for the inconvenience.

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