Dozens of residents of the Friendship Towers were still seeking relief when they entered the Fulton County courtroom of Superior Court Judge Gail Tusan. The high-rise, located on Northside Drive in southwest Atlanta, has been without air conditioning for weeks. A lawsuit was filed after an elderly resident had to be rushed to the hospital after he fainted from the heat. Friendship Towers CEO Lloyd Hawk testified Friday that it was known back in February that there were problems with the cooling system, and a new one was ordered.
The judge listened to the residents’ stories and gave the owner of the residential facility, Friendship Baptist Church, 24 hours to provide additional cooling units to the more than 90 apartments. Tenants also complained about the property management. That manager is being moved.
Several seniors said that only a part of their apartments is being cooled by temporary units provided by the church. Judge Tusan heard from others who talked about having to sleep on their couches because, as positioned, the temporary air conditioning doesn’t cool their bedroom. Tusan ordered the church to make some revisions, saying that every apartment should have another unit.
Today’s hearing was for emergency relief. Another hearing is scheduled in a few weeks. A permanent solution is supposed to be in place by June 12, but former Atlanta City Councilman Derrick Boazman, who attended today’s hearing says, “we simply don’t believe them”, referring to Friendship Baptist Church. “They have not followed through on any deadlines, so we are going to continue fighting for these seniors.” Residents say that during the winter months, heating is also an issue.
The regional administrator for the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development visited the residential facility this week.
According to Boazman, “HUD should have been there three or four years ago. We have learned that these have been persistent problems that should have already been resolved.”