500 signatures reached
To: Former Georgia Governor Roy Barnes and his brother Ray Barnes
Former Governor Roy Barnes is a slumlord. His tenants demand an end to his human rights violations.
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Former Governor Roy and his brother Ray Barnes are killing their extended stay hotel residents at Efficiency Lodge in Decatur, GA through negligence, neglect, and the stress caused by the constant surveillance of heavily armed, violent guards. Two residents died in their rooms in September 2020.
In September, the Barnes brothers unlawfully evicted 11 families at gunpoint. Meanwhile hypocrite Roy Barnes is attending groundbreaking ceremonies for homeless shelters claiming “We have an obligation as a community for those that have fallen on bad times to take care of them." Roy Barnes lives in a mansion in Marietta while his tenants face life-threatening conditions caused by mold, electrical fires, and flooding at Efficiency Lodge.
We, the tenants of Efficiency Lodge, will not take any more of this. We know Roy and Ray Barnes have more than enough money to compensate residents for the harm and death they have caused. We are therefore demanding immediately:
1) No more evictions, lawful or unlawful, at Efficiency Lodge during the pandemic. Respect the federal eviction moratorium.
2) Compensate all residents who were unlawfully evicted from Efficiency Lodge with two full months rent.
3) Allow all evicted residents return to the property whenever they need to retrieve their mail which is being illegally withheld.
4) No curfew for tenants.
5) Cancel all late fees and overdue rent. Allow residents to pay whatever they can afford during the pandemic.
6) Hire a new manager that is held accountable to not stealing residents rent and then claiming they never paid.
7) Remove the armed guards from the property.
8) Fix the property:
Fix electrical wiring to protect residents from electrical fires
Fix plumbing and flooding
Clean up the piles of trash
Exterminate all infestations
Remediate all mold
Why is this important?
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.”