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GA: Government incompetence leads to vandalism in Hyde Park

Ferguson, Missouri isn’t the only town in America fearing vandalism.

In a small neighborhood in Augusta, Ga., the predominantly poor African American community, home to many senior citizens, is scared and confused while abandoned homes are vandalized. It’s on a much smaller scale than the rioting in Ferguson, but the vandalism and fear in Hyde Park is no less due to government action.

Over the last few months, Augusta’s government relocated 30 residents of Hyde Park. The relocations are part of a public works project—a retention pond–that is intended to reduce flooding in the area.

Then the relocations stopped. The city was out of money for the project and couldn’t afford to relocate anyone else. They also couldn’t afford to demolish the abandoned homes, making them a target for vandals and squatters.

“I don’t know they claim they ain’t got no money they had money to move those first people out. I don’t believe that,” 40-year resident Frankie Taylor told WJBF’s George Eskola.

Another resident noted the vandalism.

“The homes of the people who have moved out are being vandalized,” said Robin Stokes. “I don’t want my home to be vandalized.”

When residents are moved out, the city also purchases their properties. And here’s where there is a problem: the city requires private property owners to board up or demolish abandoned or condemned buildings, but in Hyde Park, the city isn’t following its own rules.

City Commissioner Marion Williams thinks this is a problem.

“We’ve violating our own ordinances,” Williams said. “We’re letting the houses just sit there. People are moving out. You can’t have it both ways.”

The abandoned homes are a public safety hazard, he told NBC26.

“Just like the one behind me here, its easy access. Children could get in it someone can violate a child. Someone can go in there and set a fire inside,” he explained.

To help remedy the situation, Williams is asking for a full audit of spending in Hyde Park. He wants to know where all the money is going.

So far, the city has spent over $4 million on the project. Attempts by media to obtain documents showing where money is going have been met with resistance.

Last Tuesday, residents showed up to the commission meeting to demand to know where the money went.

New city administrator Janice Allen Jackson seemed to dismiss the outcry from residents, telling The Augusta Chronicle that Hyde Park “really is a pretty unique project.”

“There are not a lot of times when you have that level of people who feel like they’ve been treated wrong,” she said.

In this case, some 70 percent of residents remain in Hyde Park. While they continue to be wronged by the government, Watchdog Wire continues to investigate.

Click here for all our stories on Hyde Park

Featured image: Shutterstock.com

Josh Kaib

Josh Kaib is the Assistant Editor of Watchdog Wire. Twitter: @joshkaib

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Categories: Budget and Finance, Government Transparency, Must Read, News, Waste, Fraud and Abuse
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