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Some Cherry Tree Crossing residents ready to leave

Friday, Oct. 19, 2012 6:25 PM
Last updated Saturday, Oct. 20, 2012 3:04 AM
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Sounds of gunfire are an automatic signal to get on the ground for Debbie Davis and her five grandchildren. For that reason, Davis is ready to move on from her home in Cherry Tree Crossing, a public housing project scheduled for demolition.

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Debbie Davis holds a letter from the Augusta Housing Authority, which she received only moments earlier, announcing a meeting to discuss the soon-to-be demolished Cherry Tree Crossing.  MICHAEL HOLAHAN/STAFF
MICHAEL HOLAHAN/STAFF
Debbie Davis holds a letter from the Augusta Housing Authority, which she received only moments earlier, announcing a meeting to discuss the soon-to-be demolished Cherry Tree Crossing.

“It’s a good place, but it’s scary, too, because boys be shooting and stuff,” Davis said.

She and other residents opened their mailboxes Friday to find a letter inviting them to a meeting about relocating nearly 400 Cherry Tree families.

“I’m not mad about it,” Davis said. “It should be done.”

On Tuesday, the Augusta Housing Authority will begin meeting with families about plans to move them starting in June. The barracks-style complex off 15th Street will be replaced with a modern apartment complex for mixed incomes, pending formal approval from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

Residents will be able to move to other public housing projects, senior housing or take Section 8 vouchers that can be applied at privately owned places whose owners accept them.

Demolishing Cherry Tree Crossing is part of a nationwide trend of replacing traditional public housing projects – criticized for becoming isolated pockets of poverty – with mixed-income developments. The new complex to be built on the site of Cherry Tree will be the second mixed-income complex in Augusta.

Alante Ruffin, 25, wants a voucher so she can get out of public housing and into a safer environment for her son and daughter. A new home will be a fresh start when she can find employment and give a better life to her family.

“I love these bricks, but they need to tear it down,” said Ruffin, who has lived in Cherry Tree all her life.

Playgrounds at the complex were removed several years ago, so her kids stay inside, she said. If she uses a voucher to rent a house or apartment, Ruffin’s children could run around and play again.

Leaving Cherry Tree behind would not be so easy for 24-year-old Pierre Lowe, also a lifelong resident of the housing project. His mother, grandmother, siblings, nieces and nephews all live in Cherry Tree, where he has childhood memories and friends.

“I’m not going anywhere,” Lowe said. “If they tear it down and there aren’t bricks left out here, I’m still standing on it.”

A concentration of crime and violent activity isn’t a good reason to demolish the housing project, Lowe said. He thinks the violence will be spread more widely across the city.

According to data from the Richmond County Sheriff’s Office, five homicides have occurred at Cherry Tree since 2002. The most recent was on Nov. 2, 2010, when Norma Jean Mobley, a 52-year-old mother of four and grandmother of seven, was stabbed in her apartment.

Also in the past 10 years, 435 drug-related offenses, 89 aggravated assaults, 236 burglaries and 34 robberies were cited in Cherry Tree.

Capt. Scott Peebles said a lot of crime in the project is caused by people who aren’t residents. It’s a densely populated complex, so the police call volume is high, he said.

“It’s no secret we respond to crime there, but there’s also a lot of good people that live there,” Peebles said.

Terry Mcrae, 53, doesn’t mind saying goodbye to Cherry Tree if he can move to another public housing development. Mcrae lived in Cherry Tree, then called Sunset Homes, until he was about 8. He moved back in 2000 after staying at Underwood Homes, a housing project in east Augusta that was demolished in 2010 and replaced by the mixed-income Walton Oaks complex.

Mcrae says his childhood neighborhood has changed.

“The difference between now and then, people watched out for one another. Now, I don’t know,” he said. “Now, children are running the joint. It’s a nice place, but it’s too much stuff going on for no apparent reason.”

ABOUT CHERRY TREE

Cherry Tree Crossing, originally called Sunset Homes, was built in 1939 as one of the nation’s first government housing projects under the Housing Act of 1937, according to The Augusta Chronicle archives. Sunset Homes was for black residents, and Olmstead Homes, near Julian Smith Casino, was for whites. Both were funded by the Works Progress Administration, an agency of President Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal legislation.

After a $12 million renovation, the 393-unit Sunset Homes was renamed Cherry Tree Crossing in 1993 in an effort to improve the complex’s tarnished image, the archives say.

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Little Lamb
46920
Points
Little Lamb 10/19/12 - 08:47 pm
7
2
Move in, Move up, Move out

The above was the motto of the public housing premise in the 1940s and beyond. But you can see how the government failed both the benefactors and the beneficiaries of public housing in the following paragraph from the story above:

Leaving Cherry Tree behind would not be so easy for 24-year-old Pierre Lowe, also a lifelong resident of the housing project. His mother, grandmother, siblings, nieces and nephews all live in Cherry Tree, where he has childhood memories and friends. “I’m not going anywhere,” Lowe said. “If they tear it down and there aren’t bricks left out here, I’m still standing on it.”

Little Lamb
46920
Points
Little Lamb 10/19/12 - 08:52 pm
11
2
Renovated

Totally renovated, to the tune of $12 million, in 1993; then torn down in 2013 — a painful kick in the groin to taxpayers.

Pathetic.

Hucklebuck
43
Points
Hucklebuck 10/19/12 - 10:21 pm
14
0
A

This is the problem I have with public assistance. There is no way in hell that 3 generations of a family be allowed to live off the system. Why wasn't Mr. Pierre Lowe at work. Now they are going to tear this down and give them all section 8 housing and watch crime go up wherever they end up. It should be for our elderly not healthy able bodied adults. Its not my responsibility to house Alante Ruffin's children. Where is the father and why did she have children she can't take care of. Alot of these women need to keep their legs closed. As for Mr. McCrae he hasn't been able to make it out of the projects in 53 years. Again they are sitting on their assess talking about where they want to live and how it isn't safe. You want a nice house get a job and buy one.

No one ever seems to talk about personal responsibility. Public housing and public assistance should be time limited except for the elderly and that disabled. 3 years and get the hell out.

jackrussell
219
Points
jackrussell 10/20/12 - 01:47 am
7
0
I agree completely

I agree completely Hucklebuck. Well said!

wildman
1157
Points
wildman 10/20/12 - 03:20 am
9
0
Well

Hucklebuck sort of said it all. This story is a good example of lazy people thinking they are entitiled to a life supported by my tax dollars. Get off your lazy (blank) and go to work! Nuff said.

Tullie
2930
Points
Tullie 10/20/12 - 06:05 am
7
0
Needs Explaining

Alante Ruffin, 25, wants a voucher so she can get out of public housing and into a safer environment for her son and daughter. A new home will be a fresh start when she can find employment and give a better life to her family.

So, Ms. Ruffin, can't get a job now to give a better life to her family? What is the difference in public housing and a section 8 voucher that pays her to live somewhere else?

Ruckus
467
Points
Ruckus 10/20/12 - 07:23 am
5
0
Now Now

Lets hope that Mr 24-year-old Pierre Lowe will make a difference once moved from this environment. The gov also provides assistances for education too so that you can get a trade or even join the millitary. I agree that it was a waste of tax payers money for the renovations as well as not having a time limit to stay there. the longest program at Augusta Tech is 2 years. The sad part is when they rebuild the area up the crime will return... signed Uncle Ruckus ...no relation

omnomnom
3964
Points
omnomnom 10/20/12 - 07:25 am
5
1
"Totally renovated, to the

"Totally renovated, to the tune of $12 million, in 1993; then torn down in 2013 — a painful kick in the groin to taxpayers."

The Augusta National has them beat when it comes to well-thatsnot-fair recipients. Berkman's road was totally resurfaced only a year ago. And it'll cost $20.3 million to move it. All for the whim of a few plutocrats.

Tearing Cherry Tree Crossing down only to rebuild it is rather silly. But I imagine it'll bring some more steady business to Thompson Wrecking (does the city contract with anyone else for that stuff?) and ENTER PREFERRED BUILDING COMPANY HERE.

In the mean time the residents of CT will be dispersed across the greater Augusta area, and the unruly ones will bring more destabilization to already struggling neighborhoods.

justthefacts
22710
Points
justthefacts 10/20/12 - 07:35 am
4
1
Hmm

Wonder how much revenue the ANCG returns to the Augusta economy vs Cherry Hills Apts.

seenitB4
90795
Points
seenitB4 10/20/12 - 07:42 am
2
1
3 generations at cherry tree

wow...now that should tell you something......we aren't very smart with our freebies.....
Now where oh where will we send them .....anyone ....south Augusta are you ready ......

CobaltGeorge
164620
Points
CobaltGeorge 10/20/12 - 08:06 am
1
1
Lets see,

"Capt. Scott Peebles said a lot of crime in the project is caused by people who aren't residents."

Now I understand, the Residents are GOOD, the Visitors are BAD. So if we rebuild, the residents will still be GOOD and the Visitors will become GOOD.

I learn something everyday.

Haven628
17
Points
Haven628 10/20/12 - 08:31 am
6
0
Temporary Means Just D*** That!!!

Generations?!?!? Generations?!?!? There comes a time in life when yes things happen and people need assistance to get back on their feet, but it should be a temporary type of assistance. This is rather embarassing to read that generations have grown up in this complex. Apparently someone in those households haven't learned anything about the concept of hard working and improving the life of themselves and moving out to help the next person who may need assistance. Vouchers should be mandated as temporary and should not last no longer than 2 years (3 yrs. max). From that point, it should be cut off and provided for the next person who really needs it so that they can get back on their feet to help the economy. Recycle. People who work work hard to provide for themselves and their families. But the underline jolt is that some of their hard earned pay supplements abled-bodied individuals to sit in these complexes and do nothing but ride the system. The cycle needs to be cut off. Just like LittleLamb stated, "Move In, Move Up, and Move Out!"

schmuck
22
Points
schmuck 10/20/12 - 09:11 am
3
0
seems pretty clear

Vote Romney.

OpenCurtain
10049
Points
OpenCurtain 10/20/12 - 09:18 am
4
0
May I suggest

from past experiences with Section 8's and this not meant as a dig in anyway.

But to our Housing Authority,
please develop a mandatory training class that deals with:

* What is different between projects and communities.
* Socially non-confrontational dealing with neighbors.
* What is and isn't legally acceptable in communities.
* Etiquette & social issues within the community.
* Provide a used working lawn mower to mow the grass.
* Financial planning for proper house care and operations.
* Dealing with limited suburban Transportation issues.

A few drill down examples:
* no loud noises and car radios turned up to full bass.
* No shouting MF or other profanities across the yard at each other.
* No pointing at a neighbor and doing the pistol shot gesture.
* No parking all over the front yards.
* Use a cloths line or dyer and not the fence line

If we are ever going to blend, despite the many politically motivated efforts to keep us separated, we need to fix what can be saved, and quickly discard what is broken beyond repair.

Does any one feel the 60 years of projects has been sucessful?
Has it done much more that create a separate socially hostel culture, whether deliberately or inadvertently?

JRC2024
9290
Points
JRC2024 10/20/12 - 09:20 am
3
1
You will never never change

You will never never change the mindset of thos people who live there. They will always be the lowest on the society chain. I bid on some of the work when the remodeling was done. The place was torn up then, remodeled with new roofing, windows, gutters, siding, doors and just go look at it now. All torn up. Pathetic values of the residents.

countyman
20588
Points
countyman 10/20/12 - 09:48 am
1
2
The majority of people will

The majority of people will move to other public housing projects, and some out of the county in the future.

They're not renovating the housing project similar to the year 1993.. It's a mixed income community located in the same area with the Foundry Place development, 15th street widening, and the $1.8 million grant...

The Berckman rd project is $16 million, and once the Village at Riverwatch is completely developed. Certain people will be excited to see road improvements in the immediate area.

Jane18
12332
Points
Jane18 10/20/12 - 09:49 am
2
0
Lawn Mower?

You have got to be kidding, Open Curtain! I am still laughing.........

OpenCurtain
10049
Points
OpenCurtain 10/20/12 - 09:52 am
3
0
Ownership vs. Givenship

Has a lot to do with how people treat the things they use around them.

seenitB4
90795
Points
seenitB4 10/20/12 - 09:55 am
3
0
Did I see this...

The majority of people will move to other public housing projects, and some out of the county in the future.

Now what county do you suppose that is....

chascushman
6653
Points
chascushman 10/20/12 - 09:56 am
4
3
We can thank the liberal
Unpublished

We can thank the liberal republicans, the democrats and most of the black leaders for creating this situation by spreading the entitlement mentality for the last 40 years.

itsanotherday1
45404
Points
itsanotherday1 10/20/12 - 09:57 am
3
0
I say again, fence the darned

I say again, fence the darned thing in and require a code to get through the gate, then another code to get in the building. That would keep the casual riff raff out. We would see then how much mischief is caused by residents vs unwelcome guests.

OpenCurtain
10049
Points
OpenCurtain 10/20/12 - 10:11 am
4
0
Jane18 Who you're gonna call?

Yes it is funny on the outside but a fact.
1 bad yard is all it takes to start a change of events.

I have yet to see Augusta Code enforcement ever fine the County or the Section 8 lords on the Gravy train.

BTW: You are aware there at least 2 major Section 8 slum lords in the area. One owns well over 40 properties being paid for by the County. The one that we knew of had Tax bill addresses in 3 other states and we finally found him up in Martinez in a very nice house.

He purchases foreclosed properties that magically passed inspections despite no AC or working toilets. Then gets them on the Section 8 list, and occupied in under 45 days...now that's political pull. Any thing found broken, he charges the County saying that it broke or was damaged during S8 rental and is covered under his S8 agreement.

OpenCurtain
10049
Points
OpenCurtain 10/20/12 - 10:35 am
3
0
Broken or designed to be professionally abused

There lays the question SIB4

gagentleman
103
Points
gagentleman 10/20/12 - 11:01 am
6
1
i guess they will all move to

i guess they will all move to south augusta and make what used to be a great place to live even more violent.

gagentleman
103
Points
gagentleman 10/20/12 - 11:06 am
3
1
AHA is gonna spend millions

AHA is gonna spend millions of dollars of our money to make this a multi purpose community, the only problem with this is the area its in .YOU CAN PUT A TUXEDO ON A PIG ,BUT ITS STILL A PIG

gagentleman
103
Points
gagentleman 10/20/12 - 11:21 am
5
1
i live in a community off of

i live in a community off of peach orchard rd that was built in the 60s, most of our residents bought thier homes when they were built ,some bought as early as a few months ago and all are good nieghbors that take care of thier property. now we have some section 8 homes also, guess where all the hooping and hollering and hell raising and gun fire and unruly kids come from. i am a stouch democrat and i realize sometimes people need a hand up,but like everything else A HELPING HAND SHOULD HAVE TIME LIMITS for both public assistance and housing.

hopple
9
Points
hopple 10/20/12 - 11:24 am
5
1
section 8 waiting list

I've been on the section 8 housing waiting list for a few years...I'm kinda glad my name hasn't been pulled from that hat yet...My family and I would stick out like sore thumbs...I think I'll stick to the nice, quiet, stay to myself and bother nobody life I've been living...my kids get a good education in Columbia County anyway :)

chascushman
6653
Points
chascushman 10/20/12 - 01:12 pm
1
0
rethink your party
Unpublished

gagentleman, perhaps you should rethink your party because Marxists, socialists and communists have taken over your party.

Jane18
12332
Points
Jane18 10/20/12 - 04:21 pm
2
0
gagentleman

chascushman, believe or not, after reading gagentleman's comment, I wanted to say what a nice and smart guy he sounded and seem to be. I was going to ask him to come on over to our side...................

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