The “press conference” held at the Bennett Smith Family Life Center to dispel any rumors and hear the concerns of residents, turned into a near shouting match at the end. At the close of the session, which lasted a little over an hour, it was clear that transparency between the Tower’s owners, the new management ( Capital Realty), and tenants, was a major issue. Residents felt they were being kept in the dark about what was going on, which fueled some of the rumors (i.e. The Towers had been sold and are being turned into luxury apartments and tenants would be displaced).
The fact that representatives from the management company were not present only raised residents suspicions and outrage. One tenant questioned why Rev.Michael Chapman, the pastor of St. John, was not
present. Another accused the three members of being less than truthful although they appeared to be doing their best to answer questions. The Board Chairman Mr. Lewis assured that “at no point will we lose ownership of St. John towers.” He also vowed that St. John would remained true to its original vision as “a place to house our seniors. A series of meetings between tenants and management are being panned and “St. John Tower will remain affordable and no tenant displaced” before or after the renovations, which will be taking place over the next 12 months. The board members also promised to address tenants concerns of insensitivity and of being snubbed by the new management team. One tenant described Capital as “sowing seeds of dissension and chaos” at the Towers. Some immediate concerns included a broken intercom system, and lack of security in the building. Those issues the board members said, would also be quickly addressed. “Residents are afraid because they don’t know what’s going on,” declared Lynnette Joyner Tenant Council President. ” They don’t know what’s going to happen to them.” Tenants want everything made plain in writing for their own peace of mind. More transparency will go a long way to keep the rumors in check. Meanwhile residents will remain vigilant to ensure that St. John Towers remains, as Rev. B.W. Smith envisioned decades ago, “the last place between here and Glory” for our seniors.