ATLANTA -- A well-known senior facility is without air conditioning and now community leaders are urging management to get it fixed or make arrangements for residents to stay elsewhere.
11Alive was in downtown Atlanta at Friendship Towers at Northside Dr. and Mitchell St. Wednesday afternoon. The apartment building is owned by Friendship Baptist Church, which used to be located across Northside Dr. -- until 2013 when the Atlanta Falcons bought the church buildings and the property they were on for $19.5 million, to make way for the new Falcons stadium.
Residents of the HUD-subsidized apartments say they don't understand why management representatives are telling them they can't get the air conditioning fixed for another three weeks.
"For us to wait until June 3, that's too much," resident Sharon Bridges said.
She said she's been pouring sweat all day and that since the air conditioning unit broke in the building, the temperature in her apartment has reached as high as 96 degrees Fahrenheit.
"I just want them to take care of the older people in the bed who can't get out," she said.
That's Ronald McCoy's concern, too. He is often walking out of his apartment and going outside to cool down.
"I can move around," McCoy said. "See, I'm worried about the people who can't move around in there. It's hot. It's sticky hot."
Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed, who played a key role in the $19.5 million deal between the church and the Falcons, said Wednesday that a lack of AC in the church's apartments is unacceptable.
"I'll be finding out why there's no air at Friendship Towers, and I'll be doing everything that I can to make sure that those good people have air right away," the mayor said. "What I don't want to have, is seniors who don't have access to air in there on these very hot days."
"It's unconscionable" said State Sen. Vincent Fort at an afternoon news conference outside the high-rise.
Residents along with city leaders and community activists are urging Friendship Baptist Church to fix the air conditioning immediately or offer residents an air conditioned hotel room until the air is back on.
"The air was not working last year," said Community Activist Derrick Boazman at the news conference. "When you put seniors who have asthma in a 90-plus degree building and ask them to stay there until June 3, you're really asking them to risk their lives."
Boazman called on Church Trustee Lloyd Hawk to intervene immediately.
"If his mother was in the building, would he be telling them to wait until June 3?," Boazman asked rhetorically. "We're calling on Friendship Baptist Church to move these seniors out of this death trap, because that's what it is."
11Alive News has not yet been able to reach Hawk for comment.
Residents said they were told that commercial fans were going to be delivered to each apartment.
The regional manager of Glassratner Management, Michael Shenk, told 11Alive News that his maintenance crews are working on repairs every day.
"Our number one priority is the safety and comfort of our residents," Shenk said. "We're doing everything in our power and pushing very hard to get it done. We take this very seriously."
Shenk said he had no comment about demands that the owner and management move residents into air conditioned hotels or motels until the building's AC is repaired.