There are 700 units, mostly efficencies and 1 bedroom apartments. Annual turnover is said to be around 200 units per year.There are no laundry amenities for these residents. Many of the units still have lead-based paint, or had such until recently.
On the Fulton County Tax Records they are listed as “Bedford Pine Apartments” followed by the phase number (Bedford Pine Apartments 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, & 6.). Each of the six phases has a separate contract with HUD, all of which expire this year. From what I can tell from tax record they do not seem to be in any particular geographic grouping.
Federal guidelines require that they notify their tenants one year ahead of contract renewal of the expiration and whether they intend to renew. Each of the six phases has expiration dates ranging from roughly July 2005 to January 2006 (these details may be off but not significantly). Contracts are for 5 years at a time.
They intend to renew…
On the record there are 1400 residents, mostly single mothers with small children. It is common knowledge on the streets that many of the women will let drug-dealing boyfriends move in. These drug dealers recruit their children as look-outs and other front-enders, who go on to their aspired drug dealing careers.
The eligibility requirements are very low (because of HUD policy and federal laws on the books): 18 years of age, no criminal record, and good/no credit.
A key difference between publicly-owned housing and privatized subsidized housing (i.e. Section 8 and project-based): In public housing there is a floor of $100 per month, and residents are expected to be working in some way to make this minimum tenant contribution, be working on themselves (i.e. pursuing education, etc), or be very sick or elderly. In privatized subsidized housing there are no such standards imposed on residents, and absolutely no minimum tenant-contribution to rent. They can live there on zero as long as they behave themselves.
In both public subsidized housing and private subsidized housing the tenants pay a portion of their income as rent, up to the price of the unit as specified in the property owner’s contract with HUD. In the case of public-owned subsidized housing the tenant still pays the rate specified but no less than $100). I believe the tenant pays 10% in such projects, with a minimum of $100 for those in public housing projects.
So if a tenant makes $600 per month and the contract rate of that unit is $600 they would pay $60 to live on Boulevard or Parkway Drive. What should be a good thing for those who really need it ends up being a nightmare for everybody. The ones living off of drug-dealing boyfriends they would have no documented income are living there for free…. that’s your federally-funded drug market at work for you…
It is common to see children running up to cars trying to point you off to a drug deal. Where do those children come from? Drug dealers congregate in front of many of the buildings. Lookouts sometimes work from the balconies of these green-doored buildings.
I recently attended a task force meeting to address the problems specifically related to the Bedford Pine issues. I pointed out that we are concerned about the drug dealers hanging out in front of those buildings. The officer (Sgt. Pack of APD) pointed out to me that 95% of those arrested do not live there. The discussion of that aspect was cut off when Debi Starnes asked what does attract it there.
It may be true that the subjects arrested in that area claim an address elsewhere, and granted, many of them do live elsewhere. But it is common knowledge on the street that many of them are “staying” with girls living in those projects. It only takes a few tenants to wreak havoc on the entire project. The drug dealing usually does not go on inside the buildings but on the sidewalk in front of, and in the alleys and parking lots between the buildings, many of which are owned by Bedford Pine.
The tenants not part of the drug culture all effectively live in a totalitarian regime of fear of, and submission to, these drug dealers. The typical resident there is terrified to even go to the police or attend some kind of public meeting related to crime problems. When police respond to a call in that area or come looking for someone they will not even open the door. The police come around only occasionally, the drug dealers are around 24/7. It is clearly not a good environment for the residents and certainly not good for the surrounding community.
It is like the former East Germany and other places behind the former Iron Curtain – if you were from the west it was always best to meet your contacts there in another part of town. They did not want the state security agent living in their building seeing them taking visitors from the west, and noting that on a dossier.
The drug markets in that area drive most of the crime in Midtown, and the Bedford Pine Apartments are a major factor behind this reality. Vagrants, many of whom stay at the Peachtree Pine shelter (another significant force behind crime in Midtown- a topic for another day), come into our neighborhood to break into a car or home, fence the stolen items, and then buy their next hit of crack and (increasingly) Crystal Meth. The prostitutes may be picking up their johns between Piedmont and Peachtree and servicing them as far north at Tenth Street (and beyond) but Ponce and Charles Allen is the most frequent drop-off point – again to get their next hit of crack and other drugs with their recent sale.
While getting rid of the Bedford Pine Apartments would by no means be a silver bullet, it is still the glue which holds these problems together… something we as a neighborhood need to deal with… in the specter of a 5-year contract renewal for Bedford Pine…
This is really dire… with the current projection we can expect serious crime problems until at least 2011… some food for thought…
For more insights see also an excellent article about how Section 8 works and how it can destroy communities when improperly managed – http://www.city-journal.org/html/10_4_lets_end_housing.html