• Former Governor Roy Barnes is a slumlord. His tenants demand an end to his human rights violations.
    On September 8, Efficiency Lodge unlawfully evicted more than a dozen families by locking them out of their rooms during the day while they were away at work; those who were still in their rooms, many of them with children, were forced out at gunpoint by heavily armed guards, who had been hired by hotel management to carry out the evictions. After being locked out of their rooms, a number of residents were not permitted to retrieve their possessions until the following day. The week of September 28 Efficiency Lodge gave out notices threatening to do the same thing again to many more residents and families. Under Georgia landlord-tenant law, a resident and owner establish a landlord-tenant relationship if the resident (or “tenant-at-will”) considers the owner’s property their primary residence and has lived there for at least 90 days. Many of the residents facing eviction have lived at Efficiency Lodge for far more than 90 days, some even up to three years. This makes the self-help eviction practices at Efficiency Lodge unlawful. The Georgia Department of Law’s Consumer Protection Division recognized this as recently as April 2020. For most residents, Efficiency Lodge is their last option in an exploitative and discriminatory housing market, shaped by decades of racist housing policy, disinvestment, and predatory lending in Black communities. These are some of the most vulnerable renters in Georgia—families and individuals who have, in many cases, already been deprived of other housing options and whose next stop, if forced to leave the hotel, is their car, a homeless shelter, or the street. This reality makes them particularly at risk for exploitation and abuse. At Efficiency Lodge, residents have been forced to live with dangerous living conditions and have faced retaliation (including lock-outs) when complaints have been made to the corporate office. Meanwhile the owners of Efficiency Lodge make huge profits from this dangerous situation. Efficiency Lodge, Inc. is a national corporation with annual revenues of over $7.5 million. In April 2020 they received a $150,000-350,000 low interest loan from the federal government through the Covid-19 Paycheck Protection Program. The owners are the Barnes brothers, former Governor Roy Barnes, and his brother Ray Barnes. In 1998, Ray Barnes was quoted in the Atlanta Business Chronicle stating, “you'll always have undesirables. The question is how quick you can get rid of them.”
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    Created by Efficiency Lodge Tenants
  • Trestletree Village Apartments Residents Fight Back Against Property Mismanagement and Harassment
    “I have anxiety attacks every time I see a slip of paper on my door.” Miracle Fletcher is a mother of two living at Trestletree Village Apartments. With a career in education that hit some major obstacles after she was diagnosed with a rare oral cancer in 2017, Miracle, her family, and many other Resident families in the low-income apartments have been “kicked while they are down” by the shady business practices and abuses of power taking place by Management. While living in a downstairs apartment unit in 2019, Miracle detailed horrific plumbing issues, ranging from instances of fecal matter and sewage water coming up through the bathtub drain while her children bathed, to their entire apartment being flooded and every piece of furniture having to be thrown out. Miracle, already immunocompromised in the middle of the Coronavirus pandemic, contracted a bacterial infection from exposure to the contaminated water. “We are treated in an inhumane manner, no regard for the health and safety of myself or my children,” says Miracle. “There’s no protection for us residents. It feels like it’s us against them.” Other residents have experienced similar uninhabitable living conditions and have been ignored by Management when they made maintenance and repair requests. On several occasions, Velissa Sims has called about the mold situation and received no response. “I have medical records showing how my and my children's allergies and respiratory health has been affected due to mold and roach infestations,” says Velissa. “We are all on long-term medication and have frequent doctor visits. We may even have to start getting monthly shots for my two children with asthma due to living conditions.” Several Residents like Miracle and Velissa have been speaking out in an attempt to fight back against Management’s harassment and unprofessional practices since 2017. Specific Residents have been targeted with eviction threats, harassing notices, improper and unnecessary home inspections, and inadequate property upkeep (maintenance inside and outside Trestletree units). Now, months into a COVID-19 pandemic that has elevated stress levels universally, single, working mothers are having to balance health crises, essential jobs, and the taxing virtual homeschooling of multiple children at different grade levels with fighting back against property management harassment and threats of eviction from their homes. Retaliation is a prominent tactic used by Management; while response to complaints can go weeks, even months without answer, minor “lease violations” are served randomly and more frequently to residents who fight back against the unfair treatment. “Everyone is on edge all the time. Even if you pay rent and utilities, you can look forward to some type of harassment,” says fellow Resident Tempestt Sims. “With me being a single parent, it makes it feel like [Management is] trying to intimidate you to either stay silent or leave. It’s scary to know at any moment my home can be taken from me.” Sims and others have been threatened to be evicted from their homes as a retaliation and intimidation tactic by Management. If Residents complain about unfounded or incorrect violations, maintenance issues, or provide any type of criticism toward Trestletree Management, the level of harassment intensifies. Trestletree Village Apartments Residents are given violations for nearly any miniscule infringement Trestletree Management can come up with; these bogus lease violations are stacked up over time and used as a record of “issues” to defend Management’s eventual failure to renew resident leases when the time comes. This targeted, mean-spirited stereotyping and mistreatment of Trestletree Residents must be stopped! Residents want property managers who want to work with them, not against them, to build a community of peace, respect, and accountability. Trestletree Village Apartments’ current Management cannot fulfill these needs, and therefore need to be removed and replaced.
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    Created by Trestletree Tenants Association
    There is an affordable and accessible housing crisis throughout all of metro Atlanta. Our unhoused neighbors are the most extreme manifestation of this problem. DeKalb County has chosen to provide the minimum of services so our neighbors don’t freeze to death. This is unacceptable. It’s time for the county leaders to step up, to stand up, and do the right thing not only for the unhoused but also for the hundreds who wait for years for housing and services. All people are deserving of dignity and respect. All people have a human right to shelter and housing. This is an urgent matter of life and death. Don’t let another freezing night go by without taking action.
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    Created by Diana Berman
  • 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.
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    Created by Voices of Seniors Tenant Association
  • Clarkston Station tenants demand adequate maintenance and an end to unnecessary fees
    Residents at Clarkston Station have experienced countless indignities and violations of their rights as tenants at the hands of the managers and owners of the property. Residents have had to deal with mold, pests, broken air conditioning units, and ceiling collapses, with their repeated maintenance requests being ignored by management. The landlord has also repeatedly increased the rent and charged a ridiculous $25 fee for a trash disposal problem they caused through their lack of maintenance. On top of all this, the landlord has illegally attempted to evict residents in the middle of a pandemic despite a national moratorium on evictions. The owner of the property is Code Capital Partners, a private equity firm based in New Canaan, Connecticut, and has more than enough resources to address these problems. The residents of Clarkston Station have come together to demand that they do so.
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    Created by Clarkston Station Tenants