Some fire victims still looking for housing - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Some fire victims still looking for housing

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January 18, 2007

Albany - - Almost four months after a fire displaced a dozen families, many of them are still working to re-build their lives. Because there's a high demand for affordable housing in Albany, just half of the families have found permanent housing.  

Shameka Woodson remembers it like yesterday.

"My beds, my clothes, bathroom supplies stuff like that, I lost all of that."

Since the September fire at the Odum Street Apartments, she and her two children have moved three times and she's still not settled. She's working to get there.

"I knew I was going to be alright because I had a job so I knew that I could get back on my feet. It was just going to be hard to do that."

After the fire, she held on to her job at Southside Cleaners where she makes minimum wage. She's saving her money so she can move out of the city's transitional housing center.

"It's just like home. We help with budgeting, grocery shopping, cooking classes," says social worker Buffy Daniels.

The complex is an 18 month facility for people to stay until they get back on their feet. Residents pay rent equal to 30 % of their income. Lights and utilities are covered.

Three of the 12 families displaced families are staying there. Two have moved out of town and one is still staying at the city's free emergency shelter.

The city offers over 300 low income units, but because of the high demand there are only six vacancies... with waiting lists.

"It's pretty much maxed out. If we had another fire tonight, we would be in a mess," says Theresa Kyles with the City of Albany. 

Woodson continues to work to gain independence and a home.

"I have a lot of goals set out for myself. I aint go let no fire or anything like that hold me back."

In fact, she's found hope. Since the fire, she's become engaged and she's hoping to soon start her own business.

The six families who were able to find permanent housing are living in city owned properties. Those units are for low income residents who also pay rent equal to 30 % of their income, but those residents are also responsible for their utilities.

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