The tick tick tick with the turn of the key only meant one thing: this moving truck wasn't starting.
Not too long before on this sunny Wednesday afternoon, Kenny Howell Jr. had pulled up behind the apartment he, his girlfriend and their three kids shared in the Tindall Heights public housing project in Macon, ready to load up and go.
“Really we supposed to been moved. Cause you see ain't really anybody left on this little section,” Howell said of his block on the north end of Tindall Heights. By the summer it will be demolished in the first step of a plan to replace the 75-year-old apartments with an affordable, mixed use development.
“$40 truck. And they ain't even got it running way it supposed to be,” he said.
Still with some help, Howell decided to go ahead and load up. First, back into the apartment, the slapping of the screen door behind him.
He and a friend went to the biggest stuff first.
“See how light this sofa is? This sofa light,” he said as he and his friend struggled to find the right combination of twist and turn to get out the door. Then some laughing as they realized just how steep the ramp to the back of the truck was. Howell had meant to back the truck closer to the back door, but again, dead battery.
Load it up anyway.
Like every other resident here, Howell got help from the Macon Housing Authority in finding his new place. The Section 8 Tenant Protection Voucher paving the way was kind of like a golden ticket, and Howell was satisfied he spent it well.
“It's a pretty nice neighborhood. Better than this. It's like a suburb, the part of Bloomfield we're moving at anyway,” Kenny said of his new place.
Talk to a lot of mothers here and they will tell you they want to go to a better school district. In Kenny’s case that isn't happening. Only 2 percent of third graders at Barden Elementary, Kenny's new school district, were reading at grade level there in 2015 compared to 7.5 percent at the old school district, Ingram-Pye Elementary. The state average was 31 percent.
Still, Kenny’s kids aren’t school age yet. He isn’t worried about that right now. He’s just excited to be going to a house.
“Big house. Three bedrooms, two baths, two full baths at that,” he said. “Carport. And we can have dogs there. Can't have no dogs out here.”
Altogether, Kenny said he feels good.
“Real good at that. Cause like I say we ain't but 20,” he said. “By us being young a lot of folks look at us like we crazy thinking we ain't knowing what we doing but we got to learn some kind of way.”
But he said the risks are worth it. He no longer wants to live in an apartment.
“We out of here, we out of here,” he said. “Hopefully it will be today. Gone today.”
Kenny Howell Jr. wants to make the best of it.