Protect the Elder Tenants of Sterling @ Candler Village from COVID-19!
We are members of Voices of Seniors Tenant Association (VSTA). We live in Sterling Village, a subsidized senior black community off of Candler Road in Decatur-- a low income and higher crime area. We have been residing in fear and dread of the unchecked COVID-19 infections in our building of 120 units. Our apartments are like living in a box, with no balconies and low ventilation. Complexes like ours experience disproportionate COVID-19 exposure, approximately 4.5x more than affluent white communities.
Our apartment management refuses to communicate with us on this issue. A maintenance worker has informed us that one of our female neighbors died of COVID-19 this February, 2021. There were at least ten others sick with COVID-19 in the building. We've had two more deaths due to the coronavirus in just the first week of March. We have asked management time and time again to install safety measures including security to keep us safe, but our requests have fallen on deaf ears. How can we protect ourselves from the coronavirus when we have no idea who comes and goes throughout the complex? Management has been totally unresponsive and even resentful due to our prior requests for a security guard to stop a rash of auto break-ins. Tenants at Sterling, our complex under the jurisdiction of both the Atlanta and DeKalb Housing Authority, have a right to safe housing, and as a community of elders, we demand health equity and safety from COVID-19!
We attempted to look elsewhere for help creating a stronger pandemic response for our senior living community. We called the CDC, who told us to call the State Health Department, who told us to call the Dekalb County Health Department who then said they could do nothing for us. Although all of the workers were very cordial, they all ultimately told us that they could not provide us with any help.
To even access these sites, you need the internet. Thankfully, some of our members are able to afford their own computers and service, as the apartment's computers have been locked away for months. This lack of access to the internet for elderly Black residents is yet another disparity that management seem oblivious to. The residents feel hurt, angry and that no one cares if they live or die.