Steve Benjamin Quietly Helps Neighbors at West Ave Apartments
Friday, January 4, 2013 at 9:18AM
ColumbiaCents in Columbia city council, Politics, columbia sc, steve benjamin

I came upon a story on twitter about a woman whose heat was out in New Jersey.

 

On my way to her apartment now with blankets and a space heater. Thanks for connecting me RT @r3vjtTheres an 80yo Mother in Newark wo heat.

— Cory Booker (@CoryBooker) January 4, 2013

It got me thinking. Why can't stuff like that happen here in Columbia? Mayor Booker is just using social media to answer community requests and respond to concerns. I want MY mayor to swoop in to help grandma's needing heat.

I got lucky enough for Mayor Benjamin to respond

Its a great gesture. Cory Booker is a great and compassionate Mayor."

Then he followed up. "Have you followed the WLTX coverage of the West Ave Apartments? Bad story turned good. Your City at work."

So i started digging in. The West Ave apartments are located behind Richland Memorial. Its poorer area but the folks were just like any of us trying to work and give their kids a good Christmas.

The apartments were was loaded with fire hazards since the heat went out. The owner had been fined repeatedly for code violations. The fire marshal was forcing the people out for their own safety.

They were being put up in a hotel for 2 nights, but would be on the street by Christmas. This is where WLTX and Mayor Benjamin stepped in.

Mayor Benjamin after meeting the family went to Gil Walker at the Columbia Housing Authorities and working together got Emergency Vouchers. With these the families were able to move into their new apartment by Christmas, provided by the Columbia Housing Authority. Meanwhile WLTX did a great series of stories to keep awareness on the issue.

Although the mayor didn't wear a cape he did manage to help alot of people. He also didn't feel the need to make it into a campaign event. So I got the leadership I wanted for my community, even if I didn't know it.

 

Hat tip to Nate Stewart @WLTXNateStewart whose work I relied heavily on for this piece.

 

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Article originally appeared on Columbia SC Politics (http://www.columbiacents.com/).
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