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Abandoned at Shady Acres: the reality of affordable housing in Logan County

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Abandoned at Shady Acres—a handful of Logan County families are left facing homelessness after the city says the property owner quit paying.

“It’s really a shame that people have to live like this,” Aaron Glaeser, a resident at the mobile home park says as he stands out in front of his home, “but we’re all really having issues in life,”

Life at Shady Acres, Glaeser explains, only adds to those issues.

In May, the city of Russellville cut the water off to over a dozen families due to non-payment by the property’s owner, Braxton Anderson.

Shortly after, city officials had a change of heart and turned the water back on temporarily for families they say have done no wrong.

“This wasn’t the first time this had occurred,” Wayne Thomas, Public Works and Utilities Director for the City of Russellville says, “There had been other times in the past they hadn’t made payments, you know, they were being penalized for something that they didn’t cause.”

Thomas says Braxton Anderson, who lives out of state, currently owes the city around five thousand dollars—and the residents of Shady Acres, say they’re owed answers.

“Nobody really knows what’s going on, it’s all just rumors and we’re just kind of floating, so everybody’s nerves are on edge and we’re all wondering when it’s going to happen that were going to have to find somewhere else,” Glaeser questions, “Will we be dislocated? Will be able to find other spots?”

There’s over a dozen mobile homes in Shady Acres and the residents inside them say it’s not just the water—it’s the trash piling up, it’s the roads— “there’s big cracks in the floors, in the walls,” Glaeser says, “the electricity is all messed up. My sons room actually caught on fire a couple months back and luckily I was home and was able to put it out.”

Another resident, Wendy Hardin, says she has been living there for two years, “and [I] haven’t had electricity in my back-bedroom outlets for two years. I’ve been running off extension cords in my room.”

In addition to that, Glaeser says, “the dumpster was picked up a month ago and you can see how much it’s piled up,” as he points to the heaping pile of garbage near the back of Shady Acres.

He and Hardin say they’re left with the door closed on where they will go if they’re evicted. Where will they find affordable housing?

Denise McDonald, Executive Director of Logan County Good Samaritan explains, “with Shady Acres and the water, at the time it was shut off, there were sixteen families there. The ones who are still there don’t have the resources to move.”

Glaeser agrees with McDonald, stating, “I have a special needs child. Me and my child have heart disease and my wife is the one who works and I’m staying at home taking care of him, and she just doesn’t really make the income for us to ever get ahead.”

McDonald explains there are only a handful of public housing options in Logan County and more than a handful in need.

“I would really like to see them provide something else for either low income or homeless,” McDonald says, “because there’s so much need here for it and we just don’t have enough to cover that need.”

We catch Hardin walking down the street away from Shady Acres, as she explains she has no car, she tells us, “there’s very little low-income housing and what there is, it’s all pretty much filled. I mean, I’m going on a list right now where fifteen tenants have to move out before I can move in, so I don’t know what I’m going to do. I have son in there and I just do what I can do.”

Shady Acres—a neglected lot just minutes from downtown Russellville, with families in desperate need of affordable housing and answers.

“It’s still a long, hard road ahead,” Glaeser says, “no one really knows where they’re going to go when this finally does close down.”

The public works department tells us they will continue providing water to the residents until the legal issues with the property are resolved, but when that will be remains unknown.

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