Dickens administration revises plan to relocate Forest Cove residents

Broken windows and missing siding are a common site at the Forest Cove apartment complex seen Tuesday, Feb. 1, 2022. (Daniel Varnado/For the Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

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Broken windows and missing siding are a common site at the Forest Cove apartment complex seen Tuesday, Feb. 1, 2022. (Daniel Varnado/For the Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

The city of Atlanta announced Thursday night that an agreement has been reached to expedite the relocation of residents from the dilapidated 396-unit Forest Cove Apartments complex.

ExploreForest Cove freezes rent as tenants protest deplorable conditions

Forest Cove has been the subject of several articles from The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, which revealed in 2018 that state and local governments lacked authority to address mold issues in rental units. Its property manager, Millennia Companies in Ohio, says they want to relocate the 212 residents for repairs. But a Municipal Court judge in December condemned it for demolition.

Now a spokesman for Atlanta Mayor Andre Dickens says the city and Millennia are restarting the move-out process in an effort to relocate the southeast Atlanta residents by July 15.

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Atlanta Mayor Andre Dickens stares back at a child looking out of a near-collapsing window as he reviews the conditions at the Forest Cove Apartments in the Thomasville Heights community on Saturday, Feb. 12, 2022. (City of Atlanta)

Credit: City of Atlanta

Atlanta Mayor Andre Dickens stares back at a child looking out of a near-collapsing window as he reviews the conditions at the Forest Cove Apartments in the Thomasville Heights community on Saturday, Feb. 12, 2022. (City of Atlanta)

Credit: City of Atlanta

Combined ShapeCaption
Atlanta Mayor Andre Dickens stares back at a child looking out of a near-collapsing window as he reviews the conditions at the Forest Cove Apartments in the Thomasville Heights community on Saturday, Feb. 12, 2022. (City of Atlanta)

Credit: City of Atlanta

Credit: City of Atlanta

The new plan is intended to minimize any potential impact for Atlanta Public School students ahead of the coming school year, the spokesman said. The children at Forest Cove attend Thomasville Heights Elementary School, however, APS last month announced plans to temporarily close the school beginning next school year.

Relocated residents will continue to receive subsidized rent through the Housing Assistance Payments administered by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, the spokesman said. This federal program anchors rent at 30% of the head of household’s income at Forest Cove.

“The city and Millennia will partner with Atlanta Housing, Invest Atlanta, the Community Foundation of Greater Atlanta, Open Doors, APD, Urban Planning Management and other partners to facilitate a smooth transition for the residents,” the spokesman said in a statement.

ExploreAtlanta elementary school to close amid Forest Cove relocation

The mayor’s spokesman said Atlanta will pay the upfront costs of the relocation. Millennia will reimburse the city in full once the company closes a deal for the sale, restoration, or rebuild of the property, the spokesman said.

Millennia late last month told tenants they won’t have to pay monthly rent until they are all relocated from the property. But that decision occurred in response to the outcry from residents a month earlier.

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A broken pipe spews water (right side of picture) into the kitchen of an abandoned apartment at the Forest Cover apartment complex Tuesday, Feb. 1, 2022. (Daniel Varnado/For the Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

Credit: Daniel Varnado

A broken pipe spews water (right side of picture) into the kitchen of an abandoned apartment at the Forest Cover apartment complex Tuesday, Feb. 1, 2022. (Daniel Varnado/For the Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

Credit: Daniel Varnado

Combined ShapeCaption
A broken pipe spews water (right side of picture) into the kitchen of an abandoned apartment at the Forest Cover apartment complex Tuesday, Feb. 1, 2022. (Daniel Varnado/For the Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

Credit: Daniel Varnado

Credit: Daniel Varnado

The city, in its lawsuit against Millennia, alleged the complex has racked up at least 231 code violations for fire damage and rodent infestations, among other issues, since 2017.

Forest Cove has also been the location of more than 650 police calls related to domestic violence, burglary, robbery, and homicide since 2020, according to the lawsuit.

Judge Christopher Portis ruled Dec. 27 that Forest Cove’s residents should be relocated by March, records show. His order stated the demolition should begin by April 15 and be completed by Sept. 12.