College Park community members are hoping to raise nearly $20 million for an overhaul renovation of Attick Towers — an aging, low-income public housing building.
Attick Towers, an affordable apartment building for senior citizens and people with disabilities in College Park, was built in 1968 and opened in 1972. Since its completion, the building has seen little to no renovations, according to Robert Catlin, a board member for the Housing Authority of the City of College Park. The city’s Housing Authority manages the Attick Towers complex.
“Much of the bones and structure of the building have not been updated since then,” Catlin said. “We have a lot of problems, especially over the last five to 10 years with everything aging out.”
The high-rise offers more than 100 apartments for typically 30 percent of the resident’s income, averaging out to just below $400 a month for each apartment, according to Catlin.
Some residents said the current state of the apartment complex leaves a lot to be desired for the complex’s senior community.
“The building is old and it does need extra work,” one nearly 14-year senior Attick Towers resident, who wished to remain anonymous for their privacy, told The Diamondback. “Everybody’s just plugging along and we’re all hanging in there but still, sometimes you get frustrated. But it is what it is and we’re doing the best we can.”
The resident added that they would like to see more funding for the building to complete projects including the community room, the communal women’s bathroom and a replacement for the hallway carpet.
During a 2021 city council meeting, housing authority executive director Michelle Johnson described the building conditions as “deplorable.”
Arelis Pérez, the board chair of the city housing authority, said the building needs $17 to $22 million in funding to complete all of the necessary renovations.
In 2021, the housing authority submitted a request to the city detailing the costs of each renovation, which totaled more than $16 million. But Pérez said that total cost has increased since then due to the increasing costs of construction material and labor.
The apartment complex has faced challenges in raising enough money for the necessary renovations in recent years.
The College Park City Council dedicated $1.25 million of American Rescue Plan Act funds for Attick Towers renovations in its 2024 fiscal year budget.
According to city documents, the funds will be used to address the most immediate needs of the building, such as piping systems, elevators, cooling towers and HVAC systems.
District 2 council member Llatetra Esters said it’s important for the city to assist with the building and the residents inside.
But Esters added that it can be challenging because the Housing Authority of the City of College Park — the body that administers housing at Attick Towers — is separate from the city government.
“We don’t have primary responsibility for providing funding, yet we want to be able to assist where we can,” Esters said. “It’s an older building that is definitely in need of some tender love and care.”
In addition to city funding, the state of Maryland designated $2 million for the housing authority to use for renovations in 2021. The housing authority has also received $615,000 from other sources such as grants.
Moving forward, the city’s housing authority hopes to build a second building on the Attick Towers property due to the long waitlist for the affordable housing option, Catlin said.
But Catlin noted that plan will be on hold until renovations for the existing building are completed.
Pérez urged city council members to be involved in the Attick Towers renovations throughout the year — not just during election time. She vowed to continue working for Attick Towers residents.
“I have such respect and care and compassion and love for these residents just because they matter,” Pérez said. “I will continue my fight. They say that I’m trouble, but I think of myself as good trouble.”