Latest news straight to you
Get our free weekly newsletter on important housing and democracy news every Thursday afternoon.
The 211 families still living at Forest Cove need new homes fast, after an Atlanta judge condemned the dangerously dilapidated Section 8 complex over two months ago. For now, however, they’ll have to keep waiting.
The December condemnation order gave Forest Cove’s owner, Millennia Housing Management, until March 1 to relocate the families, but the developer has appealed, leaving those renters in limbo — and squalor. For years, the poorly maintained complex has been plagued by rodents, roaches, mold, sewage leaks, and violent crime.
The city of Atlanta intervened last month, announcing it had found enough publicly owned apartments to accommodate most tenants — but some units “may not match the need” for Forest Cove residents with children, the head of Atlanta Housing (AH) told Atlanta Civic Circle on Wednesday.
The public housing authority’s CEO, Eugene Jones, said some of the 170 AH-owned units it had identified as move-in ready may not be suitable for Forest Cove families, because they need more space. Sixty-three of the available units only have one bedroom, for instance, while many families with children likely need two bedrooms or more.
The city is continuing to search for units that could, at least temporarily, provide refuge for Forest Cove renters, city officials told Atlanta Civic Circle this week.
In the meantime, Millennia has agreed to stop collecting rent — after tenants launched a rent strike. It also has beefed up security, is providing regular trash collection, and making repairs, according to Millennia spokesperson Valerie Jerome. She said in an email that maintenance staff is prioritizing “life safety issues” and emergency repairs, so other needed fixes reported by tenants will be handled in the order received.
“The [maintenance] team is not large enough to meet the requests of the residents and needs at the property,” Arthur Krauer, the developer’s community affairs director, said in a Feb. 22 letter to residents.
Millennia is trying to fill three maintenance positions, Krauer’s letter added, and he blamed the vacancies in part on the “current job market,” saying it “adds to the difficulty.”
According to the Dec. 27 condemnation order, residents should already have been relocated at the beginning of March, ahead of a Sept. 22 deadline to demolish Forest Cove, but Millennia’s appeal pauses those deadlines.
Jerome did not say when residents should expect to start packing up.
Forest Cove residents have been promised a rehabilitated complex for years — long before Millennia acquired the property from Global Ministries Foundation in 2021, as part of a $250 million deal to buy Global Ministries’ national Section 8 portfolio.
The Ohio-based company conceded in a February letter to tenants that demolishing Forest Cove and rebuilding may be the only possible way forward – but that could take several years. Meanwhile, the complex’s 211 households, many with children enrolled at Thomasville Heights Elementary School nearby, are still hoping to find homes.