Army Veteran says century-old Ralston Towers plagued by bed bugs, roaches and elevator issues
Over the past six months, some residents of The Ralston said the 102-year-old building has been plagued by bed bugs, roaches in hallways and elevators that temporarily quit working.
“I don’t plan on staying here,” said Ron Cyr, a 62-year-old Army veteran who gets subsidized housing from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development at the 269-unit building. “I’m only here because of circumstances.”
To address the allegations at 211 12th St., a senior communications officer for HUD in Atlanta said the agency is working with its contractor to perform an on-site compliance review of the property within the next 30 days to ensure that the facility for the disabled and elderly residents meets HUD’s operational and management standards.
“HUD will also take other appropriate actions as the situation warrants and as we deem necessary to address the conditions there,” said Joseph J. Phillips, senior communications officer.
Phillips said The Ralston Towers is under a Section 8 Project Based Rental Assistance contract with HUD. All units in the building are covered under the contract which helps low-income residents with their rent. The subsidy is administered for HUD by National Housing Compliance Inc.
Cyr, who uses a motorized wheelchair, said he pays almost $400 a month for rent but gets help from the subsidy with about $282.
A resident for only two months, Cyr said he has experienced problems with bed bugs and non-working elevators, although he just moved there two months ago. He had a brand new set of box springs when he moved into the building but wakes up in the morning with red bumps on his arms.
“I’ve been waking up with little spots all over me,” he said during an interview Thursday outside the building. “They are in the room and the carpet.”
Cyr said he is expecting a maintenance crew today to spray the floor and his bed. “I think they can do a lot better than what they’re doing,” he said.
Inside the building, Cyr said he keeps to himself. “Half of these people have hardly no income at all,” he said. “I don’t know why God put me here, but it came open in my situation. This is good, because I can go in my room and get away from everybody. I am a people person, but the way life is today, I back off.”
Earl Robinson , 65, said the building could use more cleaning in the halls. “They are not cleaning it up properly,” he said of the floors.
A resident for 10 years, Robinson said he was stuck in the elevator on a Saturday about four months ago. “I got hung on it,” he said.
Robinson said he was trying to get from his seventh-floor room to the ground floor. He was able to reach the ground floor but didn’t return on the elevator that day.
“I will be frank with you, I walked from the first floor to seventh,” he said. “I had to stop. I walked all the way up to the seventh floor because the elevator didn’t work.”
Robinson also recalled the foul odor in the building after a man was found dead in his room after nearly a week. Muscogee County Coroner Buddy Bryan said Lawrence Calhoun died of natural causes at age 57. His decomposed body was found on Sept. 7, but Bryan said the last time he was seen alive was Aug. 31 or Sept. 1. “He was dead for several days, at least a week,” he said.
Bryan described the odor as atrocious when he entered the building. “When I entered the door downstairs, I could smell it immediately,” the coroner said. “One said, ‘I’ve been smelling it for three days.’ That’s a long time. Somebody thought it was the water smelling.”
Phillips said the building has been owned by Ralston GA LLC since July 1, 2014. It has been managed by Miracle Mile Realty Group since May 1, 2016, he said.
A woman at Miracle Mile Realty was contacted by phone about the elevators and decomposing body but she had no comment. “We don’t have a comment about this,” said the woman who would not give her name before hanging up.
Phillips said a Management and Occupancy Review was performed at the facility in July 2011 and the property received an overall rating above average. Another review is scheduled this fall by the National Housing Compliance Inc.
“HUD’s goal is to ensure that the property is maintained in a decent, safe and sanitary condition,” Phillips said.
Tenants with concerns about The Ralston should contact the NHC at 770-939-3939 or HUD at 404-331-5136.