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Plight of single mom, 4 kids show need for affordable housing

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Plight of single mom, 4 kids show need for affordable housing

Photo provided by Atlanta News First

By Rachel Polansky, Atlanta News First

ATLANTA, Ga. (Atlanta News First) — A Decatur mother and her four children are still living in a shelter after a fire tore through their federally subsidized apartment in April.

Four months later, they’re still waiting for the Decatur Housing Authority to make repairs. The family’s plight highlights metro Atlanta’s desperate need for more affordable housing.

Nikki Waldon and her children weren’t home when the fire started, but they were alerted quickly.

“Somebody called me and said you need to come home, your apartment on fire,” Waldon said. “I’m thinking about how I just started over and I’m about to lose all my stuff and I don’t have the money to replace all this stuff.” The cause of the fire has been listed by Decatur fire officials as “undetermined.”

Waldon and her children had moved into the subsidized apartment just five months earlier, having been on a waiting list for about eight years, she said. According to the Decatur Housing Authority, it’s not unusual for people to wait five to 10 years for affordable housing in metro Atlanta. Its waiting list is currently 12,000 families and the agency only operates 400 affordable housing units.

Waldon was looking forward to a fresh start. Instead, she and her family remain in a Buford shelter.

The Decatur Housing Authority said it began “repairs and remediation” to Waldon’s unit shortly after the fire. But then a second, “larger fire” took place in a unit above Waldon’s in May, due to a “youth playing with unauthorized fireworks.” Waldon’s unit, as well as other units in the complex, “received further damage.”

While repairs are once again underway to Waldon’s unit, “additional water damage was discovered,” the agency said, further delaying remediation efforts and delaying the family from going home.

“I just want to be back in my apartment, my kids home, I want to be where my kids was stable at,” Waldon said.

The Decatur Housing Authority said Waldon’s apartment should be ready by the end of the week.

Decaturish media partner Atlanta News First provided this story