City helps fund mercy housing - WALB.com, South Georgia News, Weather, Sports

City helps fund mercy housing

November 7, 2003

Sylvester- All but three of the 100 year old row houses that lined South Isabella street are gone, or vacant.

Residents were forced to move out of their homes when property owners decided to evict them rather than bring the houses up to city codes.

"As a former resident of the row that what we call it it just hurt my heart," says president of Family Visions Inc., Rev. Judy Hall.

Hall and her brother were the ones who originally asked city officials to condemn the houses which had no indoor plumbing, no insulation, no heat, and little ventilation. After they were evicted some of the residents opposed Hall's intervention.

"It wasn't the fact that they just wanted to live in those conditions, but they couldn't afford to live any place else."

That's when Hall founded Worth County's first Community Housing Development Organization.

"Family Visions Outreach Inc. We have an interest in helping people. Our main goal is to provide decent safe housing for residents who are living in property."

With help from Congressman Sanford Bishop four mobile homes were donated to Family Visions, but the new non-profit had no money to bring them to Sylvester.

"The city has actually, through some HUD funds that we had set aside, paid for the transportation costs for these houses to be moved. We're also, as a courtesy, hooking up the electrical, plumbing, and sewer," explains Mayor Bill Yearta.

"The first guy that got qualified for one of these houses that we received, the first thing he said and he was so sad when he said it, he's about a 74 year old man, he said this is going to be the first winter I won't be cold," says Webbie Hill, Hall's brother and Vice President of Family Visions.

And through their new housing organization Hall and her brother are working to keep the rest of Sylvester warm as well.

Hall says she is working to get the three families still living on the Row into affordable, suitable housing. The city has extended their move out date to December 15th.

Posted at 4:25 PM by elaine.armstrong@walb.com

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