October 30, 4:31 AMAltanta Low Income Issues ExaminerDannis Cole
Public housing or subsidized housing can take a lot of time to get into. You may be on a waiting list for a very long time. If you are handicapped, waits are even longer for handicapped-accessible apartments. Some subsidized apartments only take applications once a month, or on certain days. Call first, to find out what their rules are, before you try to go into the rental office. For some, you must call to see if you may come to apply, or to check your position on the waiting list.
Before you pursue rental housing through HUD, you should know what you are getting into. See the National Housing Law Project for advice for your particular situation. This reporter needed handicapped-accessible housing in Gainesville, GA. She was able to get on the list fairly easily, and lived in a small group of buildings apart from the main group. All of these public housing apartments were built in 1951, the oldest apartments in Gainesville. Rooms were extremely small, so this examiner received a 3-bedroom apartment. From the outside, the apartment looked nice, and a nice concrete ramp led up to the 32" wide door. All doors had lever knobs, the kind suggested for handicapped people. But, this apartment stood on the border of two warring gangs equipped with machine guns. Gang members did not bother the residents, but bad things went on there. Residents of Gainesville did not know of the gang presence. They were afraid to visit this reporter, even in the daytime. Other than the gang problem, the apartment was on a good city bus line, and it went directly to Wal-Mart. Red Rabbit, the local bus system, serves Gainesville very well, and it gave the residents easy and wheelchair-accessible transportation for .50/ride one way with Medicare card. You should know the neighborhoods.
Be ready for monthly inspections. Management of any public or subsidized housing administered by HUD has the right to come into your apartment, and you can be evicted if cleanliness is not up to standards. They can require you to get a storage unit or evict you if you have too many possessions. Because of HUD's One-Strike Policy, if your guest misbehaves, you can be evicted. If you need to call the police, and there are drugs involved, you can be evicted even if the person and you are not friends. HUD Housing Reform Page also has information for you.
There are definite advantages to this housing, however. Rent is scaled to your income. The One-Strike Policy can work to give you a safe place to live. This reporter lived in a clean, quiet subsidized apartment community in Doraville, GA. It was a gated community, with easy access for guests with a phone call from the gate. A button on the resident's phone opened the gate-or denied access-resident's choice per call. MARTA stopped at the entrance to the complex, and went straight to the Doraville MARTA train station in about 20 minutes. The apartment included a screened in porch. But, like all HUD properties, there were rules as to what you could keep on your porch. No satellite dish allowed unless you installed blinds to hide it or kept it indoors. No bicycles.
To find public housing, HUD PHA Georgia Page has links to all offices where you can apply. Seniors can look on HUD PIH For Seniors. For subsidized housing, HUD Affordable Apartment Search can help you. For HUD Section 8, information for finding your own apartment with a voucher to help lower the rent is a mouse click away. HUD offers a link to the ILRU Directory of Independent Living Centers in GA. An Independent Living Center can give you support if you are handicapped. Your counselor can tell you of other people's experiences, offer advice on how to make a non-handicapped apartment more accessible, get software for a blind person's computer, offer technical help for using equipment, and much more.
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