DECATUR, Ga. — There are signs in just about every window asking for people to come in and apply as businesses across the metro Atlanta area are plagued with staff shortages.
Channel 2 investigative reporter Ashli Lincoln has learned about a new industry suffering from the pandemic.
Maintenance workers are leaving some metro area apartment renters waiting months for repairs because there aren’t enough of them to go around.
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One Decatur woman tells Channel 2 Action News that she is being forced to live in an apartment without heat, air conditioning or hot water as she recovers from COVID-19.
“My mother actually fought for her life. She battled COVID and had to come home like that, it actually broke me down,” Tanika Freeman, the woman’s daughter told Lincoln.
Freeman said her mother, who is tethered to an oxygen tank, lost her air conditioning back in May, causing her to go all summer without it.
After she was hospitalized for eight days in August with COVID-19, she got back to her apartment to find things had gotten much worse.
“I was in tears for three or four days because I felt like I couldn’t do anything about it,” said Freeman.
The hot water heater had burst, leaving the carpet in the unit soiled. Freeman also told Lincoln that it took management three weeks to get the water vacuumed out.
“They keep saying, ‘Oh, we’re going to get to it,’” she said.
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Lincoln contacted the apartment management to see why these repairs are taking so long. They told her that they are finding it difficult to hire and keep maintenance workers.
Staff at several other apartment communities in the metro area say the same thing: finding maintenance workers is difficult.
According to the National Apartment Association, staffing shortages were an issue before the pandemic and has since gotten worse. They say 40% of maintenance workers have quit their jobs.
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Freeman hopes these issues get sorted out soon. She says it feels like robbery to continue paying rent for an apartment without working utilities.
“Absolutely it does, that’s exactly what it feels like. You’re paying to live uncomfortable, no one should be subjected to this,” she said.
A private contractor told Freeman the repairs to her unit would close at least $3,000 to fix.
Channel 2 Action News has left messages with upper management at Freeman’s apartment complex to see if there is a timeline to fix her issues, but they have not yet responded.
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