Homeless woman asks council for help

Published 12:00 am Saturday, May 7, 2005

A homeless woman appealed to the Suffolk City Council Wednesday for help in putting a roof over her head.

Toddler in hand, Audrey Batchelor, during late appearances at the council meeting, asked city lawmakers for help in getting The STOP Organization to rebuild her home at 217th N. 7th St. The city condemned and razed her house last year.

&uot;Nobody is helping me,&uot; said Batchelor, who said she had been staying with friends and family members in recent months. &uot;I’m trying to find somewhere to stay…and all I have is this land.

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&uot;Ladies and gents, I’m begging,&uot; she said. &uot;I have nowhere to go and I don’t want to lose my boy.&uot;

Tyrone Sessoms, housing rehabilitation program director with STOP, said the organization began working with Batchelor almost five years ago and eventually offered to replace her house. But at the time, Batchelor would not agree to have a lien placed on the property as federal law mandates.

Sessoms added that he forwarded a report to the city detailing Batchelor’s situation.

Other speakers during council’s late session included:

-Whaleyville businessman Roger Leonard, who told council members that people are upset about rising taxes. He said the council needs to follow examples set by neighboring localities that have reduced their tax rates.

&uot;Your colleagues in Virginia Beach just took a giant step and lowered the mill rate,&uot; said Leonard.

He also urged council to

assume more control in the budget-creating process.

-Bennett’s Creek resident Leroy Schmidt said he supported City Manager R. Steven Herbert’s proposed funding allocations for police and education.

However, he said the council should be able to trim enough fat from other budget areas to reduce the city’s tax rate.

Schmidt also said he supported the direct election of mayor.

&uot;We want to elect our mayor and we want to give him power,&uot; he said.