Calling Millennia Housing Management a “slumlord,” housing advocates are gearing up for a nationwide day of action on April 1 to protest the Ohio-based mega-landlord’s alleged mismanagement of the low-income apartment complexes it owns across the country—including Atlanta’s condemned Forest Cove apartments.
Atlanta’s Housing Justice League accused Millennia of “failing to maintain safe and sanitary living conditions across its portfolio,” in a statement ahead of the nationwide protest.
The group is a member of the national Millennia Resistance Campaign, which is urging housing activists and the public to call the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and demand that it investigate the controversial property management company.
Millennia owns thousands of residences across the country that rely on HUD funding for tenants’ Section 8 rental voucher payments.
The coalition of housing advocates is soliciting signatures for a petition calling for HUD to improve its oversight and enforcement of how Millennia maintains its HUD-funded properties and to include tenants and tenant organizations in what happens to the properties they live in. Housing Justice League organizers said they will picket HUD’s Atlanta offices (40 Marietta St. NW) on April 1 at noon.
The Millennia Resistance Campaign is also calling for a national tenant organizing campaign against Millennia.
Locally, Housing Justice League executive director Alison Johnson said in a statement, “The goal of the action is to bring attention to HUD, the city of Atlanta, Millennia, and all others that [Forest Cove] residents feel thrown out of the city with broken promises and a shoddy relocation process.”
She was referring to the city of Atlanta’s relocation of Forest Cove tenants from the condemned complex, which has taken over a year. Some tenants still have not received furniture and MARTA cards that they were promised, while others have been served eviction threats after the relocation team bungled rent payments.
Johnson criticized HUD and Millennia for “allowing unreputable developers like Millennia to manage [housing for] some of our most valuable and vulnerable residents.”
HUD spokesperson Shannon Watkins in an email declined to say if the federal housing agency is investigating Millennia over substandard conditions at the Section 8 apartment complexes it owns and manages nationally.
“We monitor all properties in our [Federal Housing Administration] and assisted portfolios,” Watkins said in the email, referring to properties the agency subsidizes. “Our regulator policy is to assess a property’s condition and schedule routine and complaint-based inspections accordingly.”
Millennia CEO Frank Sinito denied the housing advocates’ claims that it mismanages its low-income apartment properties in an Aug. 18 reply letter to the National Housing Law Project, a Millennia Resistance Campaign member, which formally asked HUD to investigate the developer almost a year ago.
Millennia spokesperson Valerie Jerome told Atlanta Civic Circle in an email last week that Sinito’s comments still stand.Sinito said in the letter that activists were driving a “public campaign to spread inaccurate information” about Millennia and asked for a meeting with the housing advocates. They declined, pointing out they’d already had meetings with him to no avail, according to the correspondence they shared with Atlanta Civic Circle last August.
He said in the letter that the National Housing Law Project “fails to recognize Millennia’s historic efforts to preserve much-needed affordable housing that is critical to our nation’s housing stock—deeply affordable housing that would otherwise be lost.”
Pointing out that multiple Millennia properties have made headlines in Texas, Arkansas, Georgia, and other states over allegedly negligent maintenance practices that have caused tenants injury and even death—activists aren’t buying Sinito’s assertion that the developer is a responsible landlord.
“That is why the Millenia Resistance Campaign is calling for a national day of action on April 1 to fight back against these slumlords,” the group said in its call to action.