When you see the Jesup Housing Authority logo prominently displayed at our apartment complexes and on our vehicles, have you wondered exactly what we do for our community? The public housing program in the United States is over 60 years old. It had its genesis in the efforts of the social activists who, before the turn of the century, pushed for slum clearance and safe, decent housing for poverty stricken and homeless families. Housing problems originated from the flood of immigrants that swelled populations of cities like New York. Looking for a new life, immigrants arrived with little more than hope to pave the way. They faced language and cultural barriers and quickly discovered they were unable to pay the market price for decent housing. They moved to the only shelter available- in the slums and ghettos. Rural housing conditions in areas like Jesup were not much better. Often entire families slept in one-room unpainted sagging shacks, but at least the children could enjoy air and sunlight unknown to their urban counterparts. Under the U.S. Housing act of 1937, Congress created the U.S. Housing Authority and the president appointed its Administrator. In addition, under State legislation, local governments were enabled to create local housing authorities. Each local government appointed a Board of Commissioners who, in turn, directed the housing authority’s paid administrative staff. This marked the beginning of local housing authorities.
The Jesup Housing Authority recently celebrated its 55th anniversary, as it was formed on October 24, 1949, by a group of community leaders. R. T. Littlefield was the first Chairman of Commissioners and was instrumental in JHA’s origin. The goal of the JHA has remained unchanged over the last 55 years: Strive to create a positive living environment for residents of all ages, where people can live, learn, and grow to be productive and responsible citizens. The JHA board of Commissioners and employees make every effort on a daily basis to make this goal a reality for or 409 residents.
There are many steps the JHA takes to help provide a positive living environment. There is a very thorough screening process for our prospective residents. Any felony convictions, bad credit history, or other negative background issues make an applicant ineligible for public housing. One the necessary paperwork has been processed and the application is approved, the applicant then must go through a resident Orientation Session, which familiarizes the future resident with the policies and rules of the JHA. After completion of this session, the applicant is then placed on a waiting list for placement in an apartment that is appropriately sized, according to JHA policy. Rent for residents is determined by one of two methods: flat-rent, which is based on the apartment size, or income based rent, which is thirty percent of the resident’s total income after standard deductions, such as medical expenses for the elderly, other elderly/disabled deductions, child-care deductions, and other deductions defined by JHA policy. Once a resident is placed in an apartment, they are subject to rules and regulations enforced by the JHA to ensure a positive living environment for all residents. Any serious violation of the lease will lead to eviction of the resident. There has been a significant drop in the number of evictions over the last six months, as residents now understand the importance of complying with lease provisions.
The JHA also provides many resident supportive services to help make our residents productive citizens of our community. These efforts are greatly enhances by partnerships with local community organizations, such as Boys and Girls Clubs of Wayne County. department of Labor, Department of Family and children Services, Wayne County Library and many other local service organizations, groups, and churches. The JHA has a strong aly in the Jesup Police department, under the leadership of Chief Butch Hutcheson and all of the officers on the force who assist the JHA with security issues. Throughout the year, the JHA regularly organizes celebrations for residents such as the Annual Christmas Party, Easter Egg Hunt, Red Ribbon festival, Back To School Blowout, and many others. These events help to build positive relationships among our residents and with the JHA employees.
The JHA has also implemented a beautification project for its properties to improve the appearance for our residents. Landscaping, modernization and other initiatives are underway to address current deficiencies. Together, the JHA team is working to make our properties a source of pride for our community. You can help us achieve our goals. if you or someone you know is in need of affordable housing, stop by our office on 327 Bay Acres Road or call 912-427-2535 for additional information. We are here to serve our community, and to make it a better place for all of us to live, learn, and grow to be productive and responsible citizens.
Mark Watson, PHM