DECATUR (WGCL) -- Millions of tenants are unable to pay rent because of the ​economic downturn caused by the coronavirus. In September, the Trump Administration banned evictions through the end of the year.

But it’s not stopping some landlords.

Dozens of families were slapped with an eviction notice and the locks to their doors were changed. Now, many of these families are wondering one question: “what now?”

“They were beating on the door, they were saying maintenance, the front office, and saying we had to leave,” said Valencia Gasper, describing how her eviction happened Wednesday morning.

“At least follow the proper steps and protocol, what they’re doing is illegal, there’s a pandemic going on and there are families with nowhere to go,” added Eboni Wilkes, who was evicted a few weeks ago.

Tenants evicted from Efficiency Lodge in South Dekalb County led community activists to protest outside of the complex Wednesday morning.

“We should be helping one another at this time, because people are really struggling,” said Travis Smith, who was evicted in September.

Housing advocates say the moratorium banning evictions until the end of 2020– enacted through the Centers for Disease Control– is vague. They said no new funding was tied to the order and it’s unclear whether these rules apply in this case, because it’s an extended stay.

“Being a single parent, living on the streets with your kids is not a good feeling,” Gasper said.

Many people have lost their jobs.

Without financial assistance, rents simply cannot be paid.

“You have to stay strong for your kids, you can’t break down, you can’t allow them to see you weak. You can’t allow them to see you cry,” Gasper added.

The pandemic is hitting property owners too. Without payments from tenants, landlords are unable to maintain properties, pay mortgages, or property taxes.

But according to the CDC’s order criminal penalties could be imposed on landlords who violate the ban.

CBS46’s Melissa Stern reached out to the owner and president of Efficiency Lodge for comment about this, but no one returned her calls.

“If there’s anybody else going through what we’re going through right now, just keep your head up, stay strong,” Gasper added.

DeKalb Commissioner Larry Johnson, who represents the area where the motel is located, told CBS46’s Melissa Stern there is help for folks experiencing homelessness. Call 404-687-3500 or 311 for more information.

Click here to see the CDC's moratorium.

Overview of moratorium, resources and protections. Including a sample declaration (in different languages) that renters need to present to their landlords to qualify under the moratorium: nlihc.org/national-eviction-moratorium

Another overview and factsheet on the moratorium from our partners at the National Housing Law Project: tinyurl.com/ybs7xrj4 allianceforhousingjustice.org/understand-cdc-eviction-moratorium

Another resource on eviction moratorium protections and legal services: rhls.org/evictionmoratoriums

Find local legal aid offices at: bit.ly/2xNyL6M

Find area tenant associations at: bit.ly/2WJb5Kk

Connect with local bar associations at: bit.ly/2KnFOpt

For Georgia specific information, please connect with Bambie Hayes Brown, President and CEO | bhayesbrown@georgiaact.org of Georgia ACT georgiaact.org

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