May 19, 2022 - News

Atlanta prepares to relocate Forest Cove residents

Ground covered in trash at Forest Cove. Photo: Alphonso Whitfield/WABE

The city of Atlanta and its partners will soon help hundreds of people living in a dilapidated apartment complex find new housing.

State of play: The families have to move out of Forest Cove apartments by the end of the year after an Atlanta Municipal Court judge last December condemned the complex because of its appalling conditions, which were extensively documented by WABE.

  • In April 2021, Millennia Housing Management purchased the federally subsidized apartment complex with plans to rehab the buildings, Atlanta Civic Circle reported.

On Monday, Mayor Andre Dickens signed legislation to use $1.5 million in American Rescue Plan money to help relocate residents.

What they’re saying: Ayana Gabriel, vice president of community impact with the Community Foundation of Greater Atlanta, tells Axios that it will work with other nonprofits to help find affordable units for residents.

  • The first preference is to keep residents within the city limits, but Gabriel says they have the final say in where they want to live.
  • “I think we also have to remember that some people may want to use this as an opportunity to make a different choice for their family,” she said.

Gabriel tells Axios she feels a “sense of urgency” with moving residents because of the complex’s conditions. For years, residents have battled health and safety issues such as rats, mold and mildew, trash building up on the property and unstable flooring.

Of note: Housing advocates have asked the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to investigate the complex’s owner, alleging Millennia operates other housing complexes in “slum-like conditions,” according to WABE’s Stephannie Stokes.

Meanwhile: Closing Forest Cove will have a domino effect on its youngest residents. Atlanta Public Schools announced this year that it will temporarily close Thomasville Heights Elementary starting next school year since its enrollment will drop to about 60 students once the Forest Cove pupils leave.

  • Thomasville Heights students will begin attending classes at Slater Elementary School on Aug. 3.

Greg Giornelli, president of Purpose Built Schools Atlanta, which manages Thomasville Heights in partnership with APS, said in a statement that the school’s staff will be merged with colleagues at Slater.

APS school board member Katie Howard tells Axios that Thomasville Heights’ principal will also move to Slater, which will help in the transition.

  • “At the end of the day, no one should be living those conditions,” she said. “So, my focus is making sure that families and children are supported during this time.”

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