This month, Atlanta tenants and activists rallied in front of the Department of Community Affairs (DCA) office and demanded rental assistance. The state of Georgia was given nearly $1 billion in emergency funds allocated by the federal government for tenants who have fallen behind on their rent over the course of the pandemic. So far the state has given out less than 3% of total funds.
This is outrageous and needs to be taken care of immediately. It shows how little the DCA and the state government as a whole cares about working and poor people. In June, over 300,000 renters in Georgia were behind on rent. The funds that have been distributed only scratches the surface of unmet need.
Once the the federal moratorium ended, over 11,000 evictions were filed here in Atlanta and surrounding areas. The DCA has only processed less than 7,000 applications for assistance.
During the protest, volunteers with the Assist and Resist campaign were demanding that the DCA immediately distribute all the funds available for rental assistance. If the DCA does not act immediately, in this month alone we could see thousands of tenants out on the streets.
Ms. Dorothy White, who is a rental assistance applicant, had her process stalled due to the fact that the DCA has a broken online form. Ms. White stated during the protest that “when COVID came out it made it really hard for a lot of us handicapped people. Public transportation was unavailable when it first started. I had to use funds for Uber which took a lot more money out of my pocket.” Following the demonstration, DCA fixed their broken form that was preventing applicants from submitting their information.
Estevan Hernandez, a community activist with the Assist and Resist campaign, wrote a letter that was meant to be hand delivered to an official at the Department of Community Affairs. However, she declined to appear in front of the cameras, afraid of being questioned. But the rally went ahead demanding the DCA distribute all funds for rental assistance, fix the online application, quickly process all applications — and remove all time-consuming, unnecessary and burdensome application requirements. These requirements include landlord participation, lease verification, and income verification.