Albany, Lee Co. Housing Authority officials discuss potential consolidation

Albany, Lee Co. Housing Authority officials discuss potential consolidation
Albany affordable housing. (Source: WALB)
Albany affordable housing. (Source: WALB)
Albany Housing Authority CEO, Roman Velasquez (Source: WALB)
Albany Housing Authority CEO, Roman Velasquez (Source: WALB)

ALBANY, GA (WALB) - South Georgians living in low-income housing may soon have the option to live in either Albany or Lee County.

With capital budgets getting cut and operating budgets varying from year to year, officials said the Lee County Housing Authority will thrive more if combined with the Albany Housing Authority.

"The problem in all these years, these past 75 years, is that the public housing program has never been a sustainable platform," Albany Housing Authority CEO Roman Velasquez said to Lee County Housing Authority members on Tuesday night.

It's a discussion throughout the industry, regionalizing housing authorities.

"We are trying to sustain this agency so it can be here for another 75 years," Velasquez explained.

And to do so, Velasquez said consolidating the Albany Housing Authority with the Lee County agency is key.

With more than 1,300 family units, the Albany Housing Authority staff manages the 98 units in Lee County.

The larger agency typically gets more federal funding.

"They may struggle in the aspect of not being able to provide certain services to their residents and to expand even further because of that limited funding,"  said Velasquez.

"Basically, lifting the jurisdictional lines between us and would allow us or the county residents to come into the city," explained Velasquez.

The Albany Housing Authority could also acquire more property and more affordable housing in Lee County.

One resident said it's a good decision, explaining that many of the units in the county need upgrades.

Another said there's no need for more housing but rather leaders should focus on maintaining the current units.

But both residents loved the flexibility to move around from Albany to Lee County.

The Albany Housing Authority spoke to Lee County housing authority leaders, all were in favor of the consolidation.

Now, Lee County Commission and Albany City Commission will have to sign off on it.

Then the decision will ultimately be made by U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) leaders in Atlanta and D.C.

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