City votes on $7.6 million to move Forest Cove residents after missing relocation deadline

City votes on $7.6 million to move Forest Cove residents after missing relocation deadline
Published: Aug. 1, 2022 at 8:48 PM EDT
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ATLANTA, Ga. (CBS46) - Atlanta City Council approved 7.6 million dollars in American Rescue Act funds Monday to help residents at a deteriorating South Atlanta apartment complex. The council’s unanimous approval came the same day the city failed to meet its deadline of relocating residents.

63 of more than 200 households at Forest Cove Apartments had been relocated by August 1. The property was condemned in December 2021 due to dangerous living conditions. The city began moving families in early June.

A source familiar with the project said an expected 30-35 additional households would be relocated within the next two weeks.

Lolita Evans, a Forest Cove resident, said the apartments are filled with crime, trash, and rodents. Evans, a mother of four, believes the move is a step forward for her family.

“They’re still so young so they have a chance,” said Evans. “I’m just hoping for the best.”

Evans said she has been waiting to hear the status for her housing application. She could be relocated to a home in College Park, Riverdale, or Decatur.

But the housing delay now throws her children’s education in limbo. The kids have missed the first day of class, unsure of where their new school will be.

“I don’t know when they’re going to tell me to move. I could send them in school today and next week they could be moving. I don’t want to take them through all the different changes,” she explained.

Atlanta City Councilmember Jason Winston said families with kids have been prioritized in the process but acknowledged there are still a handful like Evans who feel stuck.

“Unfortunately we didn’t get all of them,” said Councilmember Winston. “We want to move methodically to make sure people are able to find the right house type for their family.”

Federally subsidized properties have a thorough, lengthy application process. Those protocols in conjunction with a tight housing market are catalysts for slowing down the project.

“With limited market forces having 3-4 bedroom homes available in the city, we’re working hard to identify those and get them to families who need them the most,” said Winston.

A third challenge concerns the community’s trust in city officials. Some residents told CBS46 they did not want to be relocated from the property they consider home.

“We’re going to do everything we can to bring them back to the community they love that they’ve called home for so long,” said Winston. “That’s part of our plan.”

Winston said he and Atlanta Mayor Dickens had visited property residents several times since the relocation began to build relationships and trust.

The city of Atlanta has brought in additional partners to work directly with families, identify housing options, and facilitate the move. Monday, the city council unanimously approved $7.6 million from the American Rescue Plan to support those resources.

A spokesperson for Atlanta Mayor Dickens said all remaining families at the property are in the multi-step process to move.

“Progress has been slower than any of us would have liked. Simply put, the relocation cannot happen fast enough,” said a spokesperson for Atlanta Mayor Dickens. “This is a top priority for City Hall and our partners, and we will not be resting until every family has been relocated from Forest Cove,” said the spokesperson.