State Rep. says Housing Authority plans to build affordable housing if Yamacraw Village is demolished

Published: Jun. 9, 2021 at 11:39 PM EDT
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SAVANNAH, Ga. (WTOC) - It’s a story we’ve followed for weeks.

The possible demolition of Yamacraw Village - one of the largest and oldest affordable housing complexes in Savannah.

The Housing Authority of Savannah says it’ll take $40 million to bring the complex up to current housing standards.

Paris Snead says his family has lived at Yamacraw Village for about three and a half years. He says he wants the Housing Authority to improve the conditions and safety in the neighborhood instead of applying to demolish it.

Snead lives in Yamacraw Village with his wife, 18-year-old son and 8-year-old daughter.

“We suffered a tremendous loss and were homeless for a while and moved to Yamacraw to restart our living process,” he said.

But he says since moving in, they’ve had a hard time getting problems fixed, like trash piling up.

The Housing Authority of Savannah has since cleaned up the trash.

Snead also says he has had problems getting questions answered about their living conditions.

“Rain will come in from outside and just rain down this wall. I don’t even understand how rain comes in but it does. You can see how our ceiling has been fixed and repatched over and over again. We have bubble areas in the ceiling where water will just bubble up,” he said. “This sheetrock is very very loose. I can almost put my finger through it.”

Along with safety issues.

“We don’t even have a resource officer to come out and kind of watch the community,” he said. “It’s supposed to be a place for kids and families to get back on their feet and they just let it go down and become a place of drugs, violence and criminal activity.”

When WTOC told the Executive Director of the Housing Authority of Savannah, Earline Davis, about Paris’ concerns about the crime, she says the Housing Authority cannot take action if problems haven’t been reported to management. She also wants to encourage all residents to report any suspicious activity or crime to the police as well as their management.

Paris says after attending a resident meeting with the Housing Authority of Savannah and learned about their plans to demolish the complex, he and his family plan to move.

“I think for me and my family, it’d be best for us to just move on. And try to find housing somewhere else. I’m not convinced that the Housing Authority has my total best interest at heart.”

So far, the public has not been told what will happen to the property Yamacraw Village sits on if it is demolished. WTOC spoke with Georgia State Representative Derek Mallow and he told us the Housing Authority of Savannah plans to build affordable housing there.

” I wanted to make sure that the community would have affordable housing right there at that site, that it wouldn’t be sold to a developer, that it wouldn’t be up for auction with HUD so that we have an opportunity to make sure that poor people would have an opportunity to have a place to live in Savannah and that it could be Yamacraw Village and they would still have a place downtown,” said. Representative Mallow. “And the Housing Authority Director assured me that affordable housing would be there and so I encourage the community, we’ve got to hold everybody accountable not only myself but the board of the Housing Authority who ultimately governs that executive director and so we have to hold the board accountable and make sure they do what they said they’re going to do.”

Representative Mallow says he’s received several calls about the possible demolition of Yamacraw Village.

He plans to continue following up on the status of the application for demolition approval.

He also says he’ll be reaching out to US Senators Warnock and Ossoff.

The Housing Authority of Savannah plans to submit an application for demolition approval to the Department of Housing and Urban Development late summer or early fall.

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