NeighborWorks breaks ground on $1.4M senior, veteran housing

ajjohnson@ledger-enquirer.comJune 16, 2014 

Officials break ground on $1.4M project for senior, vet housing in Winterfield area

A $1.4 million project to build low-income housing for seniors and veterans in the Winterfield neighborhood began last week with a groudbreaking ceremony that attracted both residents and dignitaries.

The housing is being developed by NeighborWorks Columbus, which will construct three duplex buildings on lots adjacent to and on property located at 2522 Dawson Street. The organization acquired the lots from the Columbus Housing Authority for revitalization, according to Wanda Jenkins, NeighborWorks marketing and communications specialist. Another three duplexes will be built on lots at nearby locations.

The Dawson Street site sits behind the Victory Trailer Park that Mayor Teresa Tomlinson threatened to shut down a few months ago because of drugs, violence and other criminal activity. Residents and elected officials who attended the groundbreaking said the new housing would help revitalize the neighborhood.

"This is real significant for our community because we have been fighting for them to build new housing here for years," said the Rev. Willie Phillips, founder of Winterfield on the Move Against Drugs. "At first you couldn't get anybody involved in this area, but now we have something that will really move people to help make it a better place to live."

The project is being funded by income generated from the City of Columbus' Neighborhood Stabilization Program and a $400,000 'HOME' grant from the Georgia Department of Community Affairs.

It will yield a total of 12 two-bedroom, two-bath apartments, which will be senior friendly, Jenkins said.

Elected officials who participated in Friday's groundbreaking included U.S. Rep. Sanford Bishop, State Rep. Calvin Smyre, State Sen. Ed Harbison, Mayor Teresa Tomlinson, Mayor Pro Tem Evelyn Pugh, and City Councilors Bruce Huff and Evelyn "Mimi" Woodson. Together they dug shovels into the dirt.

Bishop said later that the project would boost efforts already being made to improve the neighborhood. He mentioned Winterfield on the Move for Drugs, other NeighborWorks projects and home improvements by private citizens as examples.

"It's a neighborhood that's in transition and it's a neighborhood in renaissance," he said. "The project with NeighborWorks will certainly contribute to the enhancement of that neighborhood as well as provide an opportunity for senior veterans or surviving spouses to have a wholesome decent place to live.

"I'm just happy that the city, the housing authority, our state delegation through the Department of Community Affairs, as well as HUD's support of the NeighborWorks program were able to come together and collaborate to make it happen."

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