Future uncertain for Woodland View
July 6, 2017

By Bill Wilson
The Cleburne News

The only thing certain about the fate of Woodland View Apartments in Heflin is that the complex will be auctioned off July 20 on the steps of the Cleburne County Courthouse. Everything else remains to be seen.

The new owner may or may not keep the complex open, which houses low-income residents that participate in the section 515 rural assistance program provided by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The complex has two sections, one is for low-income residents who receive financial assistance and the other section is for residents paying rent at a fixed rate.

Site manager Kelly Haskel has known the foreclosure was in the works but did not know when it would happen. That changed on June 26 when she received an email forwarded to her from the regional property manager from the USDA informing her of the date.

Haskel said 25 units were occupied as of June 30. The low-income residents do have several options. The first option is to move into another regional USDA rental assistance facility. Each resident has or will receive a document called a letter of priority entitlement. Those allow tenants to move to the top of waiting lists at other complexes that offer USDA rental assistance, according to Haskel.

Many residents received their letters at the beginning of April, but the letters expire after four months, meaning some residents have only until the end of July to use them.

Low-income residents can also use Rural Development Vouchers, which covers the difference between their previous rent and the cost of living at a new, private residence. The vouchers must be used within 90 days, according to Haskel.

  Haskel said she has heard that local landlords will not accept the vouchers leaving the low-income applicants with fewer options.

The third option is for the low income tenants to apply to public housing. Haskel said that some residents have already moved into public housing in Heflin.

 As of last week Haskel was still processing applications and families have been moving in even though they have been told the complex is under foreclosure.

Longtime resident Patricia Houston is worried about the future.

"I do like living here; I hope they let us stay here, I am scared,” Houston said.

Houston is also disheartened by the lack of available housing in Heflin.

“I have put in applications for apartments around Heflin, they are all full up, there ain’t nothing we can do,” said Houston.

Maybe some of the answers the residents seek will be answered on the steps of the Cleburne County Courthouse on July 20.