Columbia, SC (WLTX) - Since January, more than 260 families have moved out of Gonzales Gardens. Now just five remain, as the oldest public housing complex in Columbia prepares to shut down.
"It's time to go,” says Wendell Brown. “I don't have a problem moving at all."
Brown, who has lived in The Gardens for 16 years, is one of the last people to move. He says he’s ready to move on.
"You can't stay forever so you're just moving up a bit,” says Brown. “You've been here all your life and a lot of people wanted to stay, but can't stay. You've got to go."
Brown plans on moving to his new home by the end of the week, but Nancy Stoudenmire, director of Human Resources and Planning for the Columbia Housing Authority says it's been tough finding a place for him because of his disability.
"Finding handicapped housing in the Midlands is one of the most difficult things there is,” says Stoudenmire.
Nearly 90 of the 274 families moving from The Gardens were handicapped.
"We could find maybe a one bedroom unit, but it was on the second floor. So we couldn't consider that for someone in a wheelchair or who had trouble walking."
That made the process for Brown's move a little bit harder, but he now has a place. All that waits now is the final approval.
Stoudenmire says finding handicapped housing was one of the only troubles the Housing Authority had when moving families.
"We've moved 94 families into existing public housing, which means that we haven't been taking names off the waiting list,” says Stoudenmire. “A lot of people are calling and saying when are you really going to start moving names off the list again, so the answer is now going to be really soon."
Brown says he's going to miss his low water and light bills, but when asked if he'll miss the gardens he laughed and said “Not really.”
What he’s looking forward to is starting a new chapter, in his new home.