Georgia has received $989 million in federal funds to provide housing assistance, and the DCA says it has already distributed nearly 85% of that money.
ATLANTA — The Department of Community Affairs (DCA) announced that it has stopped accepting new applications for its housing assistance program. The program, which launched in March 2020 due to the pandemic, was intended to help people pay their rent as costs soared and many lost their jobs.
Georgia received $989 million in federal funds to provide housing assistance, and the DCA said it has already disbursed more than $830 million, or nearly 85% of that money.
DCA Deputy Housing Commissioner Tonya Cureton Curry explained why they had to make this decision.
“It would be somewhat irresponsible for us to continue accepting applications, knowing that we have no funds to fund these applications,” she said. “Based on our projections, the applications we have in our pipeline and the amount of funds we have left, which is why we have planned that now is the time to stop accepting new applications with the aim of to continue to process the applications that are in preparation.”
Cureton Curry said DCA had been able to help 48,594 tenants and 8,134 landlords through the housing assistance program. But since late last week, the department has stopped taking new applications.
“It was a single pile of money,” she said. “If we were to receive additional funds from the federal government, we would certainly be the trustee of those funds. But at this stage, we have no expectation on this or any information on new funds to come.”
Rachel Lazarus of Atlanta Legal Aid fears this will lead to an increase in deportations in the future.
“That means that as we see potential for a downturn in the economy, if there’s a potential for layoffs, people are going to be in a position where they won’t have the money to pay their rent, and n You won’t have an easy place to turn to or a centralized place to turn to for help,” Lazarus said. “It can become a vicious cycle at that point. If there is no help for them, they are expelled. And now they have to try to find new accommodation. They struggle to find rent, or places that will rent. They don’t necessarily have the funds to pay first and last month’s rent, security deposit and utilities. So sometimes they end up either in shelters or in extended stay hotels or couch surfing.
If your application is already pending and you are eligible, the DCA has stated that you should receive financial assistance.
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For those who were unable to apply, Lazarus recommended reaching out to your local community.
“It’s sort of going back to where we were before the pandemic, in terms of having to reach out to local charities,” she said. “So we always recommend that if people are involved with a church, synagogue or other religious institution, check with their religious leader.”
Lazarus also said to check with the Salvation Army or call 211 on your phone, which will connect you to United Way.
“The potential impact is huge,” she said. “We didn’t know they were going to stop accepting applications. I guess we knew it was going to end at some point. But we knew Georgia had been slow to release all their money, so we thought it was going to go on much longer.”
Renter Brittany Frasier, who is self-employed and works from home, said her apartment caught fire in January, ruining her entire boutique business. She applied for the DCA Tenant Assistance Program in March.
She said she was then told she would be eligible to receive funds for more months and asked to complete recertification paperwork. She says her papers have been pending since July and has expressed disappointment at what she calls a “lack of communication”.
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“Friday night I received an email that all your documents will no longer be accepted, you need to re-upload them, but they may not accept your recertification as the program is in the process of s ‘stop. Very sudden, very random,'” she said.
Online, the DCA said that if you applied for recertification before October 28, 2022, “you will continue to be able to access your application on the portal using your login credentials.”
The DCA has a list of other jurisdictions that may have online funding. Here is their list: