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Atlanta’s public housing residents affected by coronavirus can apply for rent relief

Sean Keenan

By Sean Keenan

A new program launched by the City of Atlanta and its housing authority allows residents in public housing units to receive rent relief if they’ve lost income due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Previously, Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms issued an executive order that temporarily halts residential eviction proceedings by Atlanta Housing, Invest Atlanta, Partners for Home, and other agencies.

Now, folks in AH-owned or subsidized public housing units could be eligible to have their April and May rent payments reduced or waived entirely.

The program, which is funded via AH’s coffers, would require working residents to provide documentation showing they’d lost income, AH CEO Eugene Jones told SaportaReport in a recent interview.

Seniors living in AH properties will largely be unaffected, Jones said, as they mostly live in fixed-rate apartments. But the other tenants, whose rent prices are determined by their income levels and who are held to work requirements by the agency, need to go through the process like they would even if there weren’t a public health crisis.

“Replacement income, such as unemployment benefits, may be considered when determining household rent responsibility on a case-by-case basis,” according to a City of Atlanta press release.

Since processing this paperwork could take a few weeks, some residents will have to apply to have their rent payments retroactively waived, Jones said.

“Those experiencing financial hardship over a longer-term due to COVID-19 can have their situation reassessed and receive additional extensions,” the release read. “Further extensions also may be granted if Georgia’s shelter-in-place order extends into June 2020.”

This new program is crucial to ensuring Atlantans living in AH housing can avoid displacement during the pandemic.

“The important thing,” said Jones, “is to stop the stress of our residents who are worrying about having to be homeless.”

(Header photo, via Maria Saporta: AH CEO Eugene Jones at an Atlanta Press Club even months ago)

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