More than 50 families living in Upstate public housing got an order to move out of their home. They have 60 days to do it.
The problem according to the housing authority is the homes are too big for the family size, but some residents say they’ve been living in their homes more than 20 years.
“We’re just praying right now,” said Stephanie Lowden.
Children’s drawings hang on her fridge and family photos are proudly displayed in the living room. Lowden’s house has been her home for 17 years.
Now, she’s forced to move.
“It’s something that’s a hard pill to swallow. How can you tell your children that you have to move and you’ve been here for 17, 20 or 30 years,” she asked.
Lowden lives in public housing known as a “scattered site.” These are homes in neighborhoods across the Upstate owned by Housing Authorities and issued to qualifying families.
For years, those living in Lowden’s Nicholtown community thought everything was fine, but a meeting this week with The Greenville Housing Authority alerted them to a problem that hasn’t been addressed or enforced in many years.
54 homes are too large for the number of people living there, and, now, the Housing Authority says they must move to make way for other larger families in the system.
“How can we work a 40 hour, 60 hour jobs to come home to have to pack up from a 17 or 20 year house to be out within 60 days. If someone can help me out with that, I’d love to hear the answer.
Lowden and others like her will now get Section 8 housing vouchers and the search begins to find a new place. That’s another problem according to Lowden’s friend, Julie Thompson.
“We’ve been out since 8:30 this morning looking for homes; anything that will allow us to use our home choice voucher. However, there’s been no success at this point. You’re not sure in 60 days you’ll have somewhere to stay,” said Thompson.
7 on your side’s Addie Hampton took their concerns to Greenville Housing Authority Executive Director, Ivory Matthews.
“We’re not in any way kicking people out or putting people on the streets or displacing anybody,” assured Matthews.
Matthews came on board one year ago. She says an internal audit alerted her to the housing issues.
“Every year, we meet with families and we are required to look at their family income and their family composition and unfortunately we’ve not. Some of the families have lived in over housed situations for some time. It’s something that we’re aware of,” said Matthews.
Hampton asked her why this wasn’t addressed for many years, despite the yearly meetings.
“Yeah, it’s kind of hard for me to talk about decisions made prior to me coming to the agency. For me, I took on the responsibility as it’s my responsibility now,” said Matthews.
She said they will work with families, giving them 30 day extensions as needed. She also said the Housing Authority allows some families to be put in temporary living arrangements for an additional 90 days during their search, if they qualify, bringing the total to 180 days.