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A grave concern: the DCA's questionable handling of the GRA leaves Georgia renters in dire straits

This past Monday (December 5, 2022), it's evident a number of people in the state of Georgia have some things on their minds. Be it the start of the workweek, the advent of the winter holidays, or the runoff election, people's minds are clearly occupied on something.

However, there's an areas of concern that may have slipped through the cracks, but thanks to members of Congress, specifically Representatives Hank Johnson (GA-4), Sanford Bishop, Jr (GA-2), Carolyn Bourdeaux (GA-7), Lucy McBath (GA-7), Nikema Williams (GA-5), and David Scott (GA-13), their efforts shared this past Monday are leading to some key decisions for this Friday, December 9th.

In February 2021 (click HERE for our coverage of the press conference), a key provision in the $1.9 trillion federal recovery includes funding for renters and mortgage assistance (click HERE for additional coverage), referred to as the Georgia Renters Assistance program (GRA) and/or the Emergency Rental Assistance Program (ERAP). As a response to the more than 235,000 documented evictions in the Metro-Atlanta area (from April 2020 to October 2022 )despite eviction moratoriums established under federal law, the program is passed by Congress via the Bipartisan Consolidated Appropriations Act (2021) and signed into law in December (2020).

Given disproportionate numbers of low-income and minority communities who are dealing with previous noted adversities (i.e. eviction and related areas of concern), the following measures are put in place:

  • The first wave of funding results in $552 million allocated to the state of Georgia, $157 million of which is distributed to eligible local governments throughout the state.

  • The second wave of funding provided by the American Rescue Plan leads to the state of Georgia allocated an additional $437 million, with $125 million provided to eligible local governments throughout the state.

While all seems to be working fluidly per our coverage of this past January's press conference (while focusing more on mortgage assistance, both are administered by the Georgia Department of Community Affairs under the leadership of Commissioner Christopher Nunn), there are recent concerns raised in which members of Congress are seeking out answers by December 9, 2022:

  • October 28, 2022: Georgia residents applying online for possible assistance via the program are not able to log on the DCA website. On the same day, the site notes in a one-sentence announcement applications are no longer being accepted.

  • Based on an article via the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, around this same time period, Georgia residents who had been approved by the DCA had their approvals revoked (click HERE for more details)

  • Based on reports to members of Congress' offices, multiple housing advocates note their clients do not receive any advance notice, let alone options to appeal of work on alternative options.

  • While the DCA sends correspondence on November 2, 2022, this is done exactly one day after rent is typically due/collected.

To date, there is minimal communication taking place, hence the December 9th request for an explanation to how nearly $1 billion in funding earmarked for residents in need is inadequately accounted for, including how $830 million is disbursed to landlords (per the AJC article).

Clearly, there are some grave concerns and what's at stake is access to resources to lend assistance to those in need; not doing so clearly could result in people being forced from their residences with few, if any workable options.

In essence, during a critical time of the year, there's the potential for families to be proverbially left out in the cold.

During the holidays, let alone any day, this is potentially digging a grave (of) concern.

Notes: To date, we have not received any updates from the DCA. For additional reference, you may view the correspondence from members of Congress by clicking HERE.

The correspondence is received courtesy of the office of Congressman Hank Johnson.

The image used is among the stock photos via Wix.


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