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Housing Boom In Johnston County Translates To Bust For Tenants

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BENSON — A housing boom in Johnston County is a bust for those on the low income scale. Johnston County is attracting more people who work in Wake County, but they want more houses for their money.

Six people live in one house on West Ryals Street in Benson. They share the rent, paying more than $400 a month. Their toilet overflows when it is flushed, and raw sewage flows through the backyard. The tenants fear speaking out will force them onto the streets.

Joseph Avery, chairman of the board of directors for theJohnston County Department of Social Services, has a list of the worst rental property in the county and the owners he calls, "slum lords."

"I spoke to several people who live in some of those houses, and I was just surprised that people have to live like that in Johnston County," he says.

Most of the properties identified by the Johnston County Department of Social Services are trailers. The only houses on the list are owned by J. Don Johnson of Benson. WRAL contacted Johnson over the phone, but he had no comment.

Avery says from what he has seen, building inspectors could condemn this property, but that would probably leave tenants with no place to go.

"Our purpose is that maybe the landlords will do more than just collect rent because they are just trying to make a living," he says. "Hopefully, they'll put money back into the properties so these people can live in houses decent for humans."

Several rental trailers in Johnston County are also on the list of slum properties. They include the 301 Trailer Park in Smithfield, Paces Trailer Park in Archer Lodge and Buck Adams Trailer Park in Kenly.

Many of the residents WRAL spoke with say they will make the best of the situation so they will at least have a roof over their heads.

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Rick Armstrong, Reporter
Rick Armstrong, Photographer
Kamal Wallace, Web Editor

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