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More than 100 families could be forced to leave their homes in DeKalb County

Residents of the Forest at Columbia said they were given two months to move by the complex's management company.

DEKALB COUNTY, Ga. — A group of people holding bright blue signs chanted together on the side of the road. 

Their call?

"Help us! We need help!"

It was not the site of their normal tenant meeting Thursday night at the Forest at Columbia apartment complex. It was the place where families begged and pleaded for someone to hear their cries; they want to stay in their homes or get help to move.

More than 100 families may be kicked out of their homes by the end of August, and Crystal Baugh explained it's not enough time to uproot their lives.

“We got kids going to school. It’s real hard to they to find somewhere to move that’s three times the rent," Baugh said.

In July, residents of Forest at Columbia were given two months to move. They said the management company, Meridian Management Company, told all the residents their lease would be terminated; something the company is legally allowed to do as long as they give a 30-day written notice in Georgia. 

The reason for the mass eviction? Renovations. And the problems at Forest at Columbia are many.

Resident Sherri said she's lived in the apartments for two years, happy to get out of the hotel where she previously stayed. Her happiness ended when her apartment continuously flooded.

“It’s so many roaches in my apartment, my maintenance closet where my water heater and my air conditioner is, it floods all the time. They don't fix anything," she said. 

Baugh admitted crime is bad in the area and she has the proof right outside her window.

“I had a bullet hole come through both of my kids' bedrooms and you can see it from outside my place,” she said. 

However, not all the apartments are in deplorable conditions. Instead of kicking everyone out, residents said empty apartments could be renovated first- allowing people living in the worst conditions to move into those while the rest are fixed.

Another option?

“You want to put us out, give us so much money to go! Give us, relocate us, I would move tonight," long-time resident Ida said. 

Forest at Columbia is one of the few places they can afford with some paying $950 a month. So, places with rents upwards of $1,000, $2,000, and $3,000 are out of their reach.

“I’m ready to move, I’m not even going to lie to you, I’m ready to move. But I would like them to help me, at least offer," Sherri said. 

The deadline to move is Wednesday, Aug. 31 and many of these people have no idea where home will be.

“We need help," Eve Mayo said. "There’s a lot of families that are about to be homeless and we need all the help we can get.”

Atlanta Legal Aid Society is taking up cases of the tenants. DeKalb County officials said in a meeting earlier this week they plan to help the residents but haven’t released specifics. 

Meridian Management could not be reached for comment.

You can find resources below on how to fight evictions, specifically in DeKalb County. 

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