Two local Congressman, Rep. Sanford Bishop, D-Ga., and Rep. Drew Ferguson, R-Ga., toured the Ralston on Aug. 5 with Mayor Skip Henderson and other city leaders. At a press conference after the tour, both congressman demanded change and condemned the living conditions inside.
While city leaders prepared for next steps, residents at the Ralston waited anxiously for the necessary changes to improve their home while a Housing and Urban Development inspection loomed ahead them.
Now, HUD inspectors are in the Ralston and the inspection is underway and News 3 has been told the inspection could take up to two days.
Inspectors are looking for signs of improvement and repair by the Ralston’s managers, the New Jersey-based PF Holdings. Residents say the managers hadn’t even started the clean-up process until Sept. 30, just a day before the deadline closed.
“They just started, September the 30th,” said Marion Bass, a Ralston resident.
The mood of the Ralston’s residents has been anxious and frustrated as little has been done with nearly no communication.
“Hard to try to fight somebody that, matter of fact, you can’t see. You can’t even see them. They were in court those eight days and they didn’t even come here…they didn’t come here period,” Bass said.
Other Columbus residents have had their eye on the continuing problems at the Ralston, and as time has passed, the frustration of the residents has been echoed by those trying to help them too. Still, Bass and other residents remain hopeful for the improvements to happen.
If the Ralston has not returned to compliance with the mandates by HUD for safety, health, and sanitation, the vouchers that help their vulnerable residents will be taken away from the Ralston building and residents could be moved out.
“Hopefully they get it straight,” Bass said, “if not, move us.”