Augusta Housing Authority received final approval Monday from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to demolish
the public housing complex on 15th Street and replace it with modern, mixed-income apartments using tax credits.
The housing authority announced plans in October to raze Cherry Tree Crossing pending HUD approval. The application for demolition was submitted in mid-May.
By the end of the week, tenants will receive a required notice giving 90 days before the housing authority can begin relocating them, said Buddy Oldfield, the director of resident services. Residents can move out before the three-month mark if they waive their rights to the waiting period.
Of the 388 total units, 357 are occupied by 1,013 people.
Relocating the residents could take from six months to nine months, possibly longer, Oldfield said. The length of time will depend on the number of tenants who want to move to another public housing complex or accept a Section 8 voucher.
“We are not going to throw them out on day 91,” Oldfield said.
For those who choose public housing, the housing authority must wait to relocate them until a unit matching their need for bedroom space is available, Oldfield said.
Mary Morris, 24, said she’s ready to move out of Cherry Tree Crossing, where she has lived her entire life, and make a home elsewhere for her two children.
“It’s just somewhere to stay until I can get a better place, get a better job and get out of public housing,” Morris said.
Her mother, Cheryl Morris, has lived at Cherry Tree Crossing since 1979. She’s also ready to go but hasn’t decided where she wants to live.
“I don’t know where I need to settle down at,” Morris said, adding that the housing authority has kept residents well informed since the plans were first announced last year.
Beginning immediately, the housing authority is advising residents of their options for new housing and the procedures for relocating. Informational meetings for residents are Thursday at 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. in the Cherry Tree Crossing community room.
Next week, tenants considering Section 8 vouchers for new housing will meet with housing authority representatives. Then, screening and counseling sessions with each tenant will begin to determine housing choice.
“Once we start the moving process, it’s going to be moving and moving until we get the last one out,” Oldfield said.
He said a date for demolition has not been determined. The housing authority will take as long as necessary to relocate tenants.
The housing authority will pay for a moving company to relocate each resident or reimburse tenants who chose to move themselves, Oldfield said. They will also provide boxes and packing materials and pay fees for transferring utilities.
Constance Glover, 31, moved into Cherry Tree Crossing in February. She’s not looking forward to moving again but does want to live in a house with more privacy than the current housing project.
“It’s kind of aggravating,” Glover said about relocating. “I just moved in not too long ago. It’s like I’m not stable.”