COLUMBUS, Ga. (WRBL) – The Columbus Housing Authority and managers of the Ralston Towers in downtown Columbus met with residents today to begin the screening process to allow Ralston residents to qualify for vouchers to move elsewhere.

Last week, the federal United States Department of Housing and Urban Development took the vouchers that support residents of the 269-unit building away from the owners and informed residents of today’s meeting with the officials to plan for the future.

Chief Executive Officer of the Housing Authority of Columbus, Len Williams, spoke with News 3 to explain the process for moving the nearly 200 residents out of the building and talk about what the next steps are.

Going forward, residents were informed about a voucher process that will open up their housing options and allow them to move out of the rundown building that is rat, roach, and bedbug infested.

According to Williams, residents will have two options as the move-out process begins.

“They can stay in the local area or they can take advantage of what’s called the portability part of the program, where they can move to another area. So if they wanted to move to Atlanta for instance, they can do that. They are very pleased. This has been a long and difficult process for them and I think this is the first time in a long time that felt good about where things are,” Williams told News 3.

Following the meeting with officials from the Housing Authority, residents walked out of the building with voucher information. Williams says the HUD relocation team is already looking for housing for the residents.

A Ralston resident spoke with News 3 about how the meeting went and what they were told about the next steps for leaving the building. Residents will be required to meet with Housing Authority officials to verify their current information.

To check their voucher eligibility and receive vouchers to move out, they’ll need to have:

  • Proof of Income
  • Social Security Card
  • Birth Certificate
  • Picture Identification
  • Signed Consent for Background Checks

Once they have been verified, residents will be assisted with moving out and relocating, according to Williams. HUD will help with the moving out process.

Williams said that HUD “indicated that they know it was their issue to deal with” as the residents are moved to new homes in the Columbus area, and potentially further out.

HUD officials will bring in a relocation team in February to meet with residents privately and begin the relocation process.