Virginian Apartments Closing, 86 Residents Searching For New Homes

Lynchburg, VA - In a statement from the Lynchburg Housing Authority, the Virginian's owner, "does not believe it can overcome the building's issues and it intends to cease operations by the end of this summer."Affordable housing is far from plentiful and finding residents a place to live will not be easy. "They felt trapped for so many years, they have no money to move, this is the only reason we're still here," said Katrina Manekas. It was a small sigh of relief for Katrina Manekas who is now packing up and moving out of her section 8 apartment in the Virginian. "I plan on going back home to New York, I can't do this anymore," she said. For Manekas, broken elevators and bed bugs have been her reality, and the reality for many of the building's tenants, for years. "They deserve respect, they're elderly. Would you do this to your mother, your grandmother, your sister? I mean it's wrong," she said.With the Virginian apartments closing their doors for good, a new struggle is emerging. "We don't have enough affordable housing, that's it. We really don't have enough affordable housing," said Dawn Fagan. Fagan is the Executive Director of the Lynchburg Redevelopment and Housing Authority and is now responsible for finding each of the Virginian's 86 tenants a new home. "If I had a building that I could just say hey folks, you know what, this isn't good, we're going to move you over here, I would," she said. That couldn't be any further from reality, Fagan says, almost all of Lynchburg's current section 8 housing is at capacity, with waiting lists growing each day. The 86 Virginian tenants she said are just the tip of a massive affordable housing iceberg. Fagan is waiting to place more than 400 residents. There are so many residents, Fagan has had to stop accepting applications, though she's hopeful that those like Manekas soon to be without a home, will find a place to live. "I think that by September everybody will be in their new homes and they won't have to be dealing with some of the issues they've had to deal with and we'll go on," she said.Fagan said that is only because of the support her authority has received from local volunteers. She said HUD funding has dropped drastically recently, along with a suffering economy has made affordable housing a hot commodity nation-wide.