Valdosta leaders address affordable housing concerns following federal funding grant
VALDOSTA, Ga. (WALB) - Homelessness is something many face in Lowndes County due to the lack of affordable housing options.
Georgia Senator Raphael Warnock and Senator Jon Ossoff announced over $78 million in federal housing investments for over 100 cities around the state. The resources secured will provide affordable housing options for all incomes.
Dr. Ronnie Mathis, with the South Georgia Partnership to End Homelessness in Valdosta, says his office receives more than 2,500 calls a month in regard to people looking for decent, affordable housing.
“This funding that is coming from Washington is tremendously needed here in South Georgia. Due to the fact that we have a poor selection of decent affordable housing,” Mathis said.
One Valdosta resident says she has slept in her car multiple times this past year because she can’t find a decent two-bedroom to rent within her price range.
“They really really really need a lot of help down here. Because there’s a lot of mothers that don’t have places to stay,” Barbara Jackson, a mother who lives in Valdosta, said. “I’ve been homeless for almost a year now. I went for a two-bedroom and one bath, and that was $2,100 dollars.”
Valdosta -Lowndes County is set to receive $1.6 million from the Public Housing Capital Fund Formula Grant. Some say that’s a good start if it is used properly.
“Senator Warnock and Senator Ossoff, they have delivered. They have done what they told us they were going to do,” Mathis said. “Now it’s for local government to do what’s needed. And that is to make sure that these findings are utilized to provide affordable decent housing.”
Leaders say this is a good start, but they don’t feel that it’s enough to tackle the affordable housing crisis.
“Certainly it’s going to take more than $1.6 million to help bring some relief to a declining population of decent affordable housing,” Mathis said.
Jackson says landlords are overcharging for their rental properties.
“Down here, the money that they’re asking people to pay, it’s not worth it. It’s not worth it at all,” Jackson said.
Some Valdosta leaders say they are thankful for the funding, but Georgia needs more renter laws for their residents.
“Georgia is one of 25 states that has no laws on the books to govern landlords. I think we need laws on the book that will govern the increase and the flexibility of how much rent can go up,” Mathis said.
Research shows that since 2019, Georgia renters have faced the 12th-highest increase in rent in the nation — far exceeding income growth over that same period.
Copyright 2023 WALB. All rights reserved.