Marietta residents rally to stay in their homes

protestors against evictions hold signs in front of apartment complexRally against evictions (photo by Arielle Robinson)

By Arielle Robinson

Residents at the Legacy at West Cobb apartments in Marietta rallied this past Friday after the apartment complex told them that they must vacate their homes.

The complex informed residents in Buildings E and J on June 23 and July 13, respectively, that they must leave their apartments because the buildings must be renovated.

During the renovation, utilities will be shut down. The apartments will then be re-rented to other residents.

The complex initially told residents of Building J they had 30 days to leave but the complex extended the time to 45 days after members of the Cobb County Southern Christian Leadership Conference negotiated with management.

Despite the extension, residents say that is not enough.

Quantina Scott lives in Building E and was told to leave her apartment.

Scott organized Friday’s protest to draw attention to what property management is doing as well as help others like her find the resources to be able to move and find somewhere else to live.

“Many families don’t have money to move at this time,” Scott said. “We’re trying to advocate for families so they can stay in their homes.”

The majority of residents living at these apartments are working-class and are deemed essential workers since the pandemic began.

Additionally, many of them use Section 8 vouchers to afford housing.

Scott pointed to high prices of rent, many housing areas not accepting Section 8 vouchers and Georgia ending federal unemployment benefits as factors contributing to residents at the complex being unable to afford rent elsewhere.

“People just don’t have money,” Scott said. “There’s no money available for people trying to get back on their feet.”

Nichole White, who has lived in Building J for nearly five years, said that when she came home from work she noticed a letter that told her she had 30 days to move.

“I called [the front office] and I said, ‘why are y’all moving me? Why can’t I renew my lease?’ They said my lease was up in October and they’re not renewing my lease,” White said. “They told me they’re not renewing my lease because they’re remodeling that building.”

White hoped that the apartment would move her and her family elsewhere, but she said the apartment just gave them a list of places they could move to.

“I have a young daughter, my grandson and his mom stays with me,” White said. “We don’t have anywhere to go. If we get put out or we can’t find anything, we’re homeless.”

Jasmine Horace said that the time the apartment has given her and her family to move is not enough. She said she lives paycheck to paycheck and does not have the money to simply leave.

She said the front office should assist residents more and that they have barely communicated with her since telling her to leave.

Horace said leaving her home is only half of the issue, as she and her family have made community where she lives.

“I just enrolled my son into school,” Horace said. “He knows some of these kids out here. Now, if I have to relocate to another city, I have to start all over again.”

Scott said that at least 27 people have been told to leave. This number does not include tenants’ families and others who live with them.

Catherine Trammel said that because of her good standing with regard to rent, if she were to move out then try to move back in the apartments would lease to her.

Still, she said she needs more time than the apartment gave her as housing is so expensive and therefore difficult to find.

Trammel said the apartment complex still wants her to pay July rent even though they told her to vacate her home.

Throughout her four years living at the Legacy apartments, Trammel says there have been numerous issues with them.

She said she and her family moved from one building to another one because she had a hole in her ceiling along with mold. Even in the current building she’s in, she says that the balcony looks like it is going to collapse.

Shantearia Gordon just moved into her building in May and is already preparing to leave.

Gordon said she spent thousands of dollars moving to Marietta from her home state of Florida and even enrolled her child in free daycare conveniently located across the street.

Gordon also said there were issues with her apartment.

One day, she found a possum in her apartment, she said. Another time, her stove did not work and she resorted to using a lighter to operate the stove.

If worse comes to worst, Gordon said she will move back to Florida.

Gordon moved to Georgia with hopes of attending college, which she emphasized meant everything to her.

“I had to quit school because when I got an eviction I started crying and getting emotional,” Gordon said. “It’s extremely depressing. So I had to stop my schooling and my bachelor’s degree that I paid good money for.”

Like the other residents, Gordon would like to see apartment owners provide those who have to leave with somewhere to go.

“What are we supposed to do next?” Gordon said. “[The owners are] breaking the lease. What do you guys owe me because if I break the lease, I owe y’all something.”

Pat Keane represents Aspen Square Management, the company that owns the apartments.

Keane said that management is working with residents to find new housing and put them in contact with organizations that will help them.

“We have extensive contacts with Cobb County’s Star-C Program, MUST Ministries, Sweetwater Mission, and other programs,” Keane said. “We are committed to meeting with each of the 27 families effected [sic] and getting them resituated.”

When asked what resources Aspen has provided residents with, Keane pointed to the extra 15 days the company has given them to move out.

He also said that if necessary, management will provide an added two-week discount off of rent to help those who must leave.

Keane said that local organizations have assured the company that they will help residents.

Residents were also dismayed Friday at the complex closing down the leasing office during regular business hours when the rally began.

In response to this, Keane said “The Leasing Office was closed during the time of the Rally in order to let the residents have the opportunity to explain their views without being affected by regular office activities. The office is back to normal working hours now and we are busy scheduling one on one appointments with all of the affected families.”

Advocates for affordable housing said that issues of homelessness and unaffordable rent are a less-talked-about issue in Cobb County that needs to be brought to the forefront.

Tanya Brinkley said that the organization she is part of estimates that there are currently 125 homeless people in Cobb.

Brinkley is part of Cobb Collaborative’s Homeless Awareness Strategy Team Effort outreach advocacy team.

As part of the HASTE section of the nonprofit, Brinkley works with homeless people and those on the brink of being homeless to find solutions to their individual situations.

Brinkley says that in her line of work, she has found little to no Section 8 housing in Cobb.

Brinkley also criticized deputies from the Cobb County Sheriff Department’s common practice of drawing their guns while they are preparing to evict someone.

“Do we really need to do that? I’m going to go with no, there’s got to be another way,” Brinkley said. “I was former military police in the Army, and I’m pro-police, but there are a lot of things that do need to be reformed. I do think we have the right sheriff in place to do that, but I need to see that sheriff do something.”

Quinn Mulholland is a volunteer with the Housing Justice League, an Atlanta-based nonprofit that advocates for tenants’ rights and affordable housing.

Mulholland helps operate an HJL hotline that anyone living in the metro Atlanta area can call to learn about organizing their fellow tenants.

Mulholland said he talks to residents in the metro area and that Cobb has a lot of the same issues with regard to housing that Fulton and DeKalb Counties have.

“I’ll get a lot of calls from tenants out here in Cobb who are facing [housing issues],” Mulholland said. “It’s really the same across the metro area. It’s landlords trying to illegally evict tenants or landlords that don’t want to do even basic maintenance and aren’t keeping their tenants’ homes up to a liveable condition…that’s as true out here in Cobb as it is anywhere else in the metro area. I think increasingly so.”

Arielle Robinson is a student at Kennesaw State University. She is the current president of the university’s chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists and former editor at the KSU Sentinel.  She enjoys music, reading poetry and non-fiction books and collecting books and records. She enjoys all kinds of music and reading poetry and non-fiction books.

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16 Comments on "Marietta residents rally to stay in their homes"

  1. I know how u all feel I have to move as well the rental market is so high I can’t afford a place with my SSI. Its same people are changing such high rent prices then want u to make 3 x rent.its awful.

  2. Casey Register | July 20, 2021 at 9:35 pm | Reply

    Entitled much?

    • Chari Johnson | July 21, 2021 at 9:08 am | Reply

      Cobb County ha gotten o expensive. It’s racist & doesn’t even pay enough for the high rent for living here. Anywhere there’s White people in this country, affordability will always be an issue. We’re still be in a damn recession, & can’t afford to really buy much, b/c of the big cost of living Such a shame!

      • Maybe, just maybe proximity to Atlanta and high paying jobs is the cause for the high cost of living in Cobb? Maybe you should move farther away in order to find better more affordable housing since it appears you either do not have a job or your minimum wage mentality is holding you back from achieving success. In either case, do like 99% of the rest of the world does, don’t expect others to carry your shortcomings and take responsibility

  3. Richard Pellegrino | July 21, 2021 at 1:44 am | Reply

    Thanks for a good article highlighting the issues that many face here in Cobb relating to housing instability. A few corrections are offered though:
    The owners are brand new and they state that the buildings in question are dangerous for continued occupancy without the planned repairs. They agreed to not only extend the time for residents to move but to discount rent by half to provide some relief, and to work with local agencies to temporarily house the displaced residents, and then to offer them the first right to move back in once the repairs are completed. We at SCLC, as well as other local orgs, are committed to see this process through and are hopeful, from our contacts at agencies, that the necessary resources will be provided for the families affected. However, we know, that it is extremely traumatic for them…as it is for the thousandd of others similarly affected by this barbaric lack of adequate housing in our county, state, and country…as adequate housing is a human right, and should not be a private, for-profit industry.

    • Chari Johnson | July 21, 2021 at 9:22 am | Reply

      Cobb County has gotten so expensive.We’re still in a recession. (Correction to my earlier post)

  4. Jasmine Jackson | July 21, 2021 at 8:49 am | Reply

    Jasmine Jackson im from Chattanooga Tennessee and these are some resolvable issues. I dont see Chattanooga having this issue at all. I am a recipient of Section 8 and live in The Windy Hill apartment next door. The affordable housing does not exist in that area just tenets that have nowhere else to to go if they were in this situation. Smh. No one that works and has kids should be facing this at a time like this. The state of Georgia should adopt some new programs from Tennessee. Its a start because since the article says it only 125 homeless people in Cobb county i think that made up.

    • [Note from the Editor] Jasmine Jackson: I agree with you that the figure of 125 homeless in Cobb County is probably significantly below the actual numbers. But the official numbers given for homelessness have hovered around that number. We at the Courier intend to examine the official numbers more closely, and will be reporting on what we find in future articles.

  5. Farrah J Freeman | July 23, 2021 at 4:14 am | Reply

    It is very sad that no one is helping Cobb County. What do we do just become homeless while they continue to build Georgia up& push us out? I’ve been looking for housing since Oct of 2020. I’m fed up, stressed& depressed.

    • You live in a rental. It is no different than a rental car, rented tool, rented camp site – it isn’t yours and it is temporary… Seriously? Why should Cobb county be responsible for providing assistance?

  6. I’m not sure about whether you have all the facts in this article as the laws are ckear.
    Notice for Termination Without Cause
    If a landlord does not have cause to terminate a tenancy early and evict a tenant, then the landlord must wait until the lease term has ended before expecting the tenant to move. In some cases, the landlord may still need to give the tenant written notice to move.

    Month-to-Month Tenancy
    If a tenant is in a month-to-month tenancy and the landlord wishes to end the tenancy, the landlord needs to give the tenant a written 60-day notice. This notice will inform the tenant that the landlord is terminating the tenancy and the tenant must move out of the rental unit by the end of 60 days. If the tenant does not move out of the rental unit by that time, then the landlord can file an eviction lawsuit with the court (see Ga. Code Ann. § 44-7-7). F

  7. Seems to me the “renters” do not know they are renters. You don’t own the building and as such have zero input on what the owner does with the building. If the owner wants to renovate, you have to move. Your money issues are your issues and no one else’s issue. This is what happens when you subsidize people’s lives. I’m tired of hearing there’s no money. Please! Get a job…there’s thousands of them out there. Bye.

    • I concur completely with your observations. I grew up poor, but worked hard all my life for a better life. No one ever gave me food stamps, section 8 housing or housing subsidies. If your ass is in a crack, it’s your own ass fault and getting your ass out of that crack is your own ass responsibility. Your lack of responsibility isn’t a tax payer concern.

  8. What people tend to forget or, more likely, ignore is this: Leasing an apartment does not make it your home. It is understood from the beginning that the initial lease is one year and may or may not be renewable. At best it is a temporary housing arrangement and all parties clearly understand this from the getgo. Surely an owner has the right to renovate his/her own building and, in fact, is under constant pressure to make improvements.

  9. You don’t own the apartment. You were told to leave, so get out. Very simple.

  10. Marietta mailing address is NOT necessarily “in Marietta”. Just means it is serviced by the Marietta post office.

    “West Cobb” is typically Austell, Powder Springs, or Mableton areas.

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