A month ago, Cokethia Goodman was forced to vacate her single-family home in Peoplestown. After renting for a year, she received a notice from her landlord that her lease would not be renewed. Goodman was given a little over 30 days to relocate.
Goodman’s former residence was located on Hill Street in quickly gentrifying Grant Park, where nearby dwellings are being renovated and sold around $500,000.
Today, the Goodman family continues to struggle to find affordable —and livable—housing and stay together as a family in Atlanta, Georgia.
A little over three weeks ago, Goodman invited us to take a tour of her family’s “new” residence in Forest Park, Georgia.
Approximately, 15 minutes south of her former home, the new residence she was renting is owned by Abdul Abdul Rahim Bibdudar. It sits on 1122 Elaine Drive.
“I’ve been trying to get the kids transferred into new schools,” Goodman said. “I wanted to leave my two youngest enrolled at the Barack and Michelle Obama Academy because they are in so many great programs.”
Unfortunately, with no stable transportation, Goodman was forced to withdraw all of her children from their respective schools.
As her kids looked on, Goodman gave The Atlanta Voice a tour of the house. She had managed to hang family photos, modestly decorate, and move in the family furniture—a desperate wish to create a stable and happy home for her clan.
Meanwhile, there were obvious structural issues with the new residence, including holes in the walls, exposed wires, and plumbing problems.
But even then, Goodman and her family were totally unprepared for what would happen next.
Two weeks later Goodman’s 29-year-old daughter Kiki, discovered that the basement floor was covered in about 1.5 inches of water. “We found out that all the toilets leak,” Kiki said.
Upstairs, on the main floor, there was a sink full of standing water.
“When the sink filled up with water, I tried to stick my hand into it to unclog the drain and I got shocked!” Kiki explained.
Apparently, due to the wiring issues present throughout the house, electricity is flowing through the water in the stubborn sink. Yet, when the family spoke to Bibdudar, he refused to provide maintenance services.
Bibdudar would also not respond for comment to The Atlanta Voice.
Thankfully, her daughter’s injuries did not require medical care, Goodman admitted.
Goodman reached out to social services, charities, and even Mayor Bottom’s Office of Affordable Housing to find relief.
She told me with tears in her eyes, that if the issues in this home wouldn’t be addressed, then her family will have to move again.
Unfortunately, the Goodmans were in store for even more bad news.
A few days later, a Forest Park code inspector from Clayton County came out to the house.
The inspector determined that the structural and electrical issues in the home were unsafe, and he condemned the residence.
Forced out in the middle of the day, Goodman and her family were given just a matter of hours to vacate the premises.
“A fire truck came to the house, and they called the local fire marshal,” Goodman said. “The fire marshal called the Code Enforcement Officer. The Code Officer cut off the main power from the pole and turned off the water.”
“I had to leave my teenage children with two different families,” Goodman said. “My two youngest are staying with my ex-husband, and I am staying with my oldest in a temporary hotel [provided by the Red Cross].”
Spending all the savings she had to relocated to this home from Peoplestown, Goodman said she didn’t have the financial means to move her furniture or belongings out of the newly condemned residence.
“The Mayor’s office called me back and they are trying to get me into an apartment.”
Unfortunately, an option provided by the Mayor’s office may not accommodate her entire family. Further, Goodman is also concerned that the apartment complex may be located in a high-crime area and, after all her family has gone through, she does not want to put children into an unsafe environment.
Going into the Thanksgiving holiday, Goodman has already run out of money and is soon running out of hope. She has not been able to find another house on her own.
The Atlanta Voice will continue to update Mrs. Goodman’s story as she attempts to find, and keep, affordable housing in the Atlanta area.
If you would like to donate to Cokethia Goodman’s family, Soledad O’Brien has established a GoFundMe page where you can direct donations. Donate here: https://www.gofundme.com/f/c6m89-a-cause-i-care-about-needs-help
Do you have a similar story, or would you like to help? Contact Jeremiah Long at The Atlanta Voice news at firstname.lastname@example.org.