Metro Atlanta faces a housing crisis – what can you do about it?
By Erin Drury Boorn, senior philanthropic officer, Community Foundation for Greater Atlanta
On August 26, 2021 the U.S. Supreme Court overturned the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) eviction moratorium, which banned evictions in counties experiencing high levels of community transmission of COVID-19. Landlords in metro Atlanta can now proceed with evictions unimpeded by pandemic protections. There is an exception for DeKalb County, which issued an eviction moratorium halting evictions through September. There are 800,000 households that rent in metro Atlanta and while the data is not firm, estimates indicate one-fifth of households could be at risk for eviction.
The effect of eviction on families is staggering and long-lasting. An eviction can cause children to change schools, lead to job loss, exacerbate transportation issues and create barriers to find housing in the future. We know that housing ties to healthcare – when people lose their homes health outcomes worsen and levels of stress and depression increase. Evictions eliminate stability in every facet of an individual or family’s life. If you want to learn more about the impact of evictions, visit Why Eviction Matters by the Eviction Lab.
According to the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta’s report earlier this year, eviction filings are highest in census tracts with median incomes less than 80% of the area median income (AMI) and greater than 50% Black, indigenous, and people of color (BIPOC) households. Clayton County, south Fulton County and south DeKalb County have historically been the areas with the highest eviction rates. The primary method for local jurisdictions preventing evictions is through direct rent payment. However, the five core metro Atlanta counties have distributed just 12% of available Emergency Rental Assistance (ERA) funds available through the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021, and American Rescue Plan (ARP) Acts as of July 20. The two acts made $1.35 billion in ERA funding available to the State of Georgia across both rounds (ERA1 and ERA2), at least $250 million of which is dedicated to municipal and county governments in metro Atlanta.
There are many organizations in the metro Atlanta area that work on preventing homelessness and evictions. Below are several organizations that have been working to get emergency rental assistance to those in need:
- Africa’s Children’s Fund
- Atlanta Volunteer Lawyers Foundation
- Buckhead Christian Ministries
- Center for Family Resources
- Crossroads Community Ministries
- Hearts to Nourish Hope
- Homes of Light
- Housing Plus
- Latin American Association
- Latino Community Foundation
- Martin Luther King, Jr. Senior Center
- MUST Ministries
- Rebecca’s Tent
- Ser Familia
- Single Parent Alliance and Resource Center
- Sweetwater Mission
- The Place of Forsyth County
- United Way of Forsyth County
- United Way of Greater Atlanta
There also are three populations facing barriers in accessing federal funds: families staying in long-term hotels/motels; families who live in trailers; and immigrants, particularly those that do not have legal status. United Way of Greater Atlanta is raising $100,000 for the Motel to Home program. MUST Ministries and Sweetwater Mission are also helping provide hotel assistance for those for whom nothing else is available. The Latino Community Fund and Ser Familia are both actively engaging leaders to gain clarity around what is required and how to create greater access for immigrants, including, at a minimum, the addition of language access for existing complex systems.
We are working with public partners to coordinate responses and ensure every jurisdiction in our region leverages these federal dollars to their fullest. Nonprofits have shared with us their trouble in keeping up with demand, and we are relaying this information to philanthropic partners and others who may be able to lend their support.