New failed HUD re-inspection of Ralston Towers leaves resident futures uncertain

Ralston Towers

COLUMBUS, Ga. (WRBL) – Following last week’s re-inspection of the Ralston Towers, the Department of Housing and Urban Development is reporting a failed score.

The Ralston scored a 30, another drop from their previous failed score 42 in July. It is far below the required 60 to pass.

The score was found on the HUD physical inspections website, which publicized the results of the inspection.

Now that the Ralston has failed the second inspection, it opens the door for HUD to pull the federal funding away from the New Jersey-based owners, PF Holdings, LLC. Nearly all of the 200 residents currently living at the Ralston depend on federal subsidies to pay for their housing. That subsidy goes directly to the owners through a project-based voucher.

Mayor Skip Henderson’s office has not been notified of the failed score. Neither has U.S. Rep. Drew Ferguson, according to a spokesman for the West Point Republican. Henderson, Ferguson and Columbus Democrat Sanford Bishop toured the Ralston in August.

According to a statement from Ferguson’s office, after the inspection’s completion and the score’s publication, “The owner then has 30 days to submit a Technical Review appeal or 45-days to submit a Database Adjustment appeal.”

What happens next is in the hands of the Ralston’s owners.

HUD could now cancel the contract with PF Holdings. HUD would then contact the Housing Authority of Columbus to administer the Section 8 vouchers. HUD will also assign a relocation team to assist in finding housing for the nearly 200 Ralston residents. It is unclear how long that process will take.

The July inspection came after a Muscogee County State Court jury awarded the family of Charles Hart $125 million in a wrongful death lawsuit. Hart died in July 2017 inside his Ralston room. The air conditioning was not working and the room was nearly 100 degrees.

In the July inspection, HUD went through 25 rooms inside the 269-unit building. This time, Ferguson’s office said HUD inspected 50 rooms.

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