Ralston owners stripped of federal funding; Resident relocation process begins

Ralston Towers

The New Jersey-based owners of Ralston Towers have lost the federal funding for the downtown Columbus low-income apartment building.

The 269 housing vouchers and the funding that goes with them have been transferred to the Housing Authority of Columbus, Authority CEO Len Williams tells News 3.

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development has been working to strip the funding from PF Holdings since last summer.

“I think we are nearing the finish line of this process,” Williams tells News 3. “We are just a few months away, hopefully, of getting all of the residents relocated to a better situation. And better housing.”

The building miserably failed two critical inspections last year. Scoring a 42 in July and then a 30 in the followup October inspection. A passing score is 60 on the 100-point scale.

Friday, residents were notified by the Columbus Housing Authority that there will be a meeting Tuesday. That meeting will begin the screening process to allow Ralston residents — almost 200 of them — to qualify for the vouchers.

That will open up their housing options and allow them to move out of the rundown building that is rat, roach, and bedbug-infested.

HUD will bring a relocation team to Columbus next month and meet with the residents privately. Sometime after those meetings, residents will start to be relocated, Williams says.

HUD emergency funding is in place to keep the building operational until all of the residents can be relocated.

Residents will be better off when the process is done, Williams says

“From our point of view, we think this is the best possible outcome for the residents,” he said.

They will have options they did not have under the previous arrangement. PF Holdings controlled the vouchers and they were only valid for the Ralston. Now, those vouchers will be available for other Section 8 housing in Columbus.

“As we understand from talking already to the relocation contractor, they have already started putting together possibilities, possible places for them to live,” Williams tells News 3.

There has been pressure on HUD from Columbus Mayor Skip Henderson  congressman — Republican Drew Ferguson and Democrat Sanford Bishop. The three men toured the building in August and called the conditions deplorable.

Since that visit, the pressure on HUD to deal with this situation has been intense.

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