Claire McDonald, Atlanta Director, Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN) held a second meeting at Capitol Gateway and residents came forward to share their problems about management and maintenance.
Integral, the Management Company, for Capitol Gateway and Ashley Collegetown Apartments, learned about the ACORN meeting with residents. So Ericka Platt, Regional Vice President of Operations at Integral, along with other corporate managers showed up unexpectedly for the meeting.
CAPITOL GATEWAY RESIDENTS SPEAK OUT
A mother with two small children spoke about her young handicapped son who uses a walker and that it’s difficult to get him out of their upstairs apartment. The grandmother has asked for a lower-level apartment every time she renews the lease but no one ever gets back to them about a lower-level apartment.
The young daughter has asthma and all the mold is making her sick. Other problems in the apartment are the dishwasher doesn’t work and the toilet leaks and has overflowed five times and flooded all the way to the bedroom.
“Every time it rains water comes into my apartment through the walls and I have complained about this for years. When we go to the office to tell them, they give you an attitude and it takes them so long to put in a work order,” Resident #1 said.
Only one maintenance man does a good job and he has to redo all the poor work of the other maintenance men.
“I can’t sleep at night because my hot water heater has been making a loud noise for the past year. Maintenance came and adjusted the pressure but it still makes that loud noise,” Resident #2 said.
Other problems are the gate does not work. Residents must go to the leasing office to get their mail which is inconvenient. The neighbor upstairs stomps around at 3 and 4 o’clock in the morning.
“I’m putting in a notice to cancel my lease because I can’t pay a lot of money and not be able to get rest and sleep in my own home,” Resident #2 said.
“I have lived here for five years and recently someone came to fix my leaking refrigerator, but it’s still leaking,” Resident #3 said.
Other problems in her apartment are mold in the bathroom, the air conditioner filter is filthy, and people are bringing drugs onto the property. “People are scared to say something about it. I want to know where I can go to report what I know.” Resident #3 said.
This resident has lived at Capitol Gateway for 17 years and also complained about drug dealers and water leaking in her apartment. She called the property manager, “The worst person I have ever met.”
Resident #4 directs her comment to Integral management in the meeting, “What y’all going to do? Y’all always be talking about what y’all going to do. Well, do something about that woman in the rental office always being rude and rolling her eyes” [when a problem is brought to her].
“My main problem is I haven’t got any mail in my mailbox in over a year. How can you make an appointment with the office when they won’t answer the phone?”
This resident had a hole above his window and every time it rained water came in. With almost daily calls and emails to the office, he was told someone would be out in the next few days but that never happened. “I just kept going through the same cycle for over six months to get the hole fixed.”
“Lamont is the only good maintenance man they have but he can’t do everything on this property, he needs some help. I don’t want him to leave because then I will be like some other residents who have to do everything themselves,” Resident 7 said.
ASHLEY COLLEGETOWN RESIDENTS SPEAK OUT
Venice Harris has lived at Ashley Collegetown apartment for two years and it is also managed by Integral. Harris came to the meeting at Capitol Gateway and said, “I have mold in my kid’s bedrooms, and on the windowsills, my kitchen cabinets are falling apart, and the ceiling has cracks in one bedroom.”
The leasing office told Harris that it was not mold, that it was some kind of problem with the air circulation. Her air conditioner leaks, the filter is dirty, and at night it stops working.
Harris has diabetes, lupus, and lung problems and uses an inhaler to help her breathe. Her children suffer from asthma and the mold makes their asthma worse.
Caroline Mason, who lives at Ashley Collegetown could not attend the meeting but gave Streets of Atlanta an interview over the phone.
Problems with her apartment include mold, plumbing problems, holes in the laminate floor, and out-of-control crime in the area. The floor only got fixed when she filed a complaint with the city’s code enforcement.
The one meeting they had with an Integral representative at Collegetown did not go well. “The Integral representative was out of touch with the community and came off like she didn’t care about the community,” Mason told Streets of Atlanta.
The community is concerned about crime in the area.
“One shooting was inside an apartment, another shooting was in a car parked on the street outside the apartments, one was in the parking lot, another on the sidewalk outside the apartments,” Mason said.
“I have sent out more applications to find a new place to live than I ever have in my life. I have lived here for one year. I want out! It’s traumatic for the kids who hear and see all the shootings. I even reached out to the district representatives because I have no faith that they will do anything,” Mason said.
INTEGRAL MANAGEMENT RESPONSE
Ericka Platt, Regional Vice President of Operations at Integral attended the meeting and listened to complaints from Capitol Gateway residents.
Platt apologized for any maintenance problems that have not been fixed and for unacceptable staff behavior. She promised to fix all of the residents’ issues that were brought to Integral attention by the ACORN organization. Also promised to give the rude office staff classes in customer service so they can handle service requests in a respectful manner.
“We had no knowledge of the concerns that you brought to our attention today, they were not in our system at the management office, so we had no knowledge of these concerns,” Platt said.
Integral had people come out and walk through some apartments that reported mold to see if it was actually mold or mildew. They offered to share that report after the meeting.
Other Integral managers were introduced at the meeting: Marquesha White, Regional Manager for Capitol Gateway, and Cindy Consuegra, Regional Manager for Ashley Collegetown. Both managers were available to speak with residents about their concerns after the meeting.
“We believe in servicing our residents. We want to give you the best service possible. We have a community engagement coordinator on site that should be having meetings similar to this with you guys on a routine basis.” Platt said.
Integral plans to send an email to every resident with a Resident Resolution Policy Protocol explaining who to call and the chain of command on who to call if there is an issue.
“When you damage the property you pay for it but when it is wear and tear we pay for it. We will be inspecting each unit. You don’t have to go to people outside of Integral because you have all our phone numbers and email addresses. If you can’t get what you need from the office manager or the on-site staff, or the regional manager, You can come directly to the corporate office,” Platt said.
Platt promised to come back at the end of the year to see if there have been improvements.
Time will tell if promises made will be promises kept.
Written and photos by Gloria Tatum