Some Effingham County neighborhoods are getting their own version of an extreme makeover.
Boyd Management is making extensive renovations to three low-income apartment communities it operates in Effingham — Willow Peg Village, Willow Peg Lane and Pine Manor.
The work began Monday with what Boyd Management calls the “big push” — equipping as many as eight units in one day with new kitchen cabinets, countertops, appliances, bathroom vanities, toilets, water heaters, electrical sockets and heating/air conditioning systems.
“I’m so excited. I just can’t wait,” Henry Roberson, a 14-year resident of Willow Peg, said as work was about to begin on his apartment.
With 60-70 workers on site each day, the upgrades are moving along quickly. The makeover will renovate all 57 apartments at Willow Peg Village, 48 at Willow Peg Lane and 24 at Pine Manor.
Boyd Management has owned the affordable-housing properties in Effingham since the 1990s and some of the units were built in the 1980s, according to district manager Kristyn Martin.
The aging apartments reached the point that fixing items in them was costlier than replacing them with new ones, she said.
However, she added, abandoning the properties and building new ones elsewhere was not an option.
“There’s one main benefit when you’re upgrading and rehabbing existing housing, and that’s the residents,” Martin said. “We don’t want to let our properties go. We don’t want to do like some owners in Georgia and just build new and close up old and put caution tape on the doors.”
The $3.2 million upgrade in Effingham is part of $117 million in renovations to 44 Boyd properties in Georgia, totaling 1,362 apartments. The project is financed through a combination of public and private funding sources including tax-exempt bonds, subsidized loans and federal low-income housing tax credits.
And the reaction of the residents when they see their renovated home is priceless, Martin said.
“When they walk in, they just start crying,” she said, “because they’ve never had a new refrigerator or a new stove. I guess they feel as though they didn’t know they could get something like this, even though they’re a lower-income householder.”
The upgrades to the apartments are not just brand-new, but also cost-effective for the tenants. All the appliances are Energy Star-certified, Martin said, and the sockets, fixtures and bulbs are energy-efficient.
“Yes, it’s great we’re doing all this,” she said, “but it’s all about, how much is it going to impact your bills when we get done?”
Since the residents can’t be in their homes while the interior work is being done, Boyd Management is providing a “relocation center” for people who don’t have family or friends to stay with during the day. Boyd also offers transportation for those who need it, Martin said.
But once the workers wrap up for the day around 6 p.m., the tenants return home for the night.
“They’re sleeping in their beds every night,” Martin said.