SOUTH FULTON, Ga. — One of the most crime-ridden and dilapidated housing units in metro Atlanta now has an issue over a basic need. Power has been out since last week for several residents at the Camelot Condos, located off Old National Highway in South Fulton.
Georgia Power said someone tampered with meter connections for several units, making conditions unsafe. The company said it received nine notices and had to disconnect power in four buildings to protect the residents.
"When we become aware of unsafe electrical conditions we have to act and, to protect the safety of residents, we did disconnect power at this complex," a Georgia Power spokesperson said. "We will restore power to the affected units as quickly as possible once the complex notifies us that repairs have been made by a qualified electrician and inspections from local authorities are complete."
Asiya Abdur-Rahman has lived at Camelot for two years. From hearing rats to looking at heavy mold throughout her unit, she documented a number of issues she's dealt with since moving in.
"It is really, really bad living in these conditions," Abdur-Rahman said. "I do have chronic asthma, and I just had official surgery. I'm high-risk anyway.”
Two fires broke out at Camelot in 2020. Then, three people were killed there last year. Last month, another young woman was shot and killed at the complex. Kamau said he was among those who lost power, and he said wires got so hot, he was surprised his building didn't catch fire.
“Things here are very bad," Kamau said. "The HOA does not seem to have the money. They definitely do not have the leadership to respond to all of the issues that we see going on. It’s not a healthy environment. It’s not a safe environment.”
Kamau said inspectors from the county and law enforcement have come out since residents lost power to check on other issues that have historically plagued Camelot. Arrests have been made on those with warrants, and code violations are being addressed, Kamau said.
However, the mayor and Camelot's Homeowner's Association are at odds. HOA representative Tabitha Rowe is fighting back against accusations of mismanagement, urging residents and officials to bond together rather than bicker over an answer.
"There is no mismanagement of funds," Rowe told 11Alive. "People were put in place and did what they deemed necessary. It may not have been the right decision. Nobody is ignoring it. We’re trying to get it taken care of and get their power back on.”
Rowe said some residents have been offered hotel stays while the process to get the power restored continues. It's unclear when power may be restored, as an electrician still needs to finish making repairs on the affected buildings before county officials can perform their inspections. Rowe said some unit owners were to blame, but she wasn't specific about what consequences they may face for the poor condition of their units.
Meantime, Kamau said action could ensue if changes aren't made. Camelot could fall under receivership, where a trustee would manage the property instead of the HOA. The property could also be condemned and demolished if the buildings are found to be unsafe and unsanitary. An inspection report and bill would go to the HOA before any of those steps are followed.
Kamau said there will be a briefing to the city council on June 14 about what's happening at Camelot and how to proceed with fixing the issues. A week later, on June 21, residents will meet at Mingles on Old National Highway to hold a vote and possibly replace Camelot's HOA board.
"Our job is to make sure that all of our citizens are safe and that they're living in buildings that are structurally sound, sanitary and safe," Kamau said. “If the buildings aren’t habitable, we’re going to have to look at the options.”
For those suffering through the heat and other issues brought on by a loss of power, there are few answers as to when they might get some relief or possibly be able to move.
"It's easier said than done because right now my husband is the only one working," Abdur-Rahman said. "I'm not working. I have a job, but I'm on medical leave."