All power and water services have been turned back on at the Washington Arms Apartments in East Point, according to City Councilman E. Alexander Gothard.
A dozen residents were forced to evacuate the apartments on Friday afternoon because the City of East Point condemned the apartments. Gothard says the owner of the complex, Atlanta-based Meridian Management Group, has until the close of business Friday to make the necessary repairs.
“Per our code, however, the city cannot allow residents to live in unsafe conditions as it is our responsibility to ensure they live in an environment fit for habitation,” Gothard told the Daily World in an email. “We are doing our best to see that no one is turned away without option.”
Gothard also said that Washington Arms has decided to relocate eight families to other properties under the same ownership and 11 families will receive refund checks. Other families that have not paid rent have the option to contact United Way, Red Cross or the Health Department for assistance. He asserted that there was a representative on the scene who would help residents get to those services.
“On Monday the City Manager will host a planning meeting with the City Attorney, Planning and Zoning, and Fire Departments to discuss practices going forward regarding inspections and permitting,” said Gothard.
Earlier in the week, residents were notified by the City of East Point that their homes were “unfit for human habitation,” and that further use or occupancy of the premises would be illegal.
On Wednesday, residents of the Washington Arms apartments on Washington Road were given 48 hours to vacate the premises. The residents were ordered to leave before the power and water were shut off.
With this year’s chilly winter weather, residents complained that the apartments did not have heat. They also went through periods where the water was cut off or hot water did not work. Many of the residents living in these apartments have young children.
“The heat’s been out since we’ve been here,” Gabriella Gonzales, a three-year resident who said she used electric space heaters to keep her family warm, told AJC.
The abrupt notice for residents to relocate from the apartments came as the property changed hands in order to maintain its certificate of occupancy. In order to do so, the property had to undergo a city inspection.
Meridian Management Group acquired the apartment complex early last month through receivership, which is the process of appointment by a court of a receiver to take custody of a property until a final decision is made on the disbursement of a lawsuit.
Meridian regional manager Caleb Barber said that he will continue to negotiate more time for those families who aren’t able to move right away.
“We just can’t do it within the strict timeline that they gave us,” he said. “It’s kind of hard to pack up and move everything in 48 hours.”