Let’s strengthen our support system for struggling families.
When the COVID19 economic crisis peaked in 2020, disproportionately affecting low-income Georgians, HOPE Atlanta received as many as 500 calls per week requesting housing assistance. Many were people struggling to pay rent.
“We have helped nearly 1,000 individuals with rapid re-housing since July 1, 2020,” said Jeff Smythe, CEO of HOPE Atlanta. “This has been critical for those who have already experienced evictions during the pandemic.”
With a 75% increase in calls for rental assistance amid the pandemic, experts have long feared a looming eviction crisis in Georgia. When the federal eviction moratorium expires on July 31*, that crisis will be upon us.
“The reality for many renters at this point is that the amount of their arrears is likely so high now that eviction and the subsequent judgment against them are inevitable,” said Nigel Dawson, a case manager at HOPE Atlanta. “This will create more clients needing housing.”
Since July, tens of thousands of eviction filings have piled up in Metro Atlanta, disproportionately concentrated in low-income and minority communities. Having evictions on their records will make it harder for these families and individuals to secure housing in the future.
Even before the pandemic, countless Georgians struggled to make ends meet amid economic and housing market conditions. Home prices have risen at more than twice the rate of household incomes, and only 10% of apartments in Atlanta are affordable to households earning less than $45,000 per year. Even families who manage to cover rent each month often face a difficult choice to make ends meet: pay this month’s rent, or buy groceries?
Jason Willis, HOPE Atlanta’s deputy director of hunger relief, predicts an increase in food insecurity in Georgia as another side effect of the looming eviction crisis.
“Without stable housing, families cannot store a supply of food for any length of time,” said Willis. “There is no doubt that HOPE Atlanta and all other agencies will see an increase in individuals seeking assistance after the moratorium expires.”
And inflation is still on the rise, adding to the “perfect storm” for Georgians facing housing and food insecurity. “Unfortunately, consumer goods are 5% more expensive, and the cost of gas in many states is up as much as 50% since the start of the pandemic,” said Dawson. “This means the poor are getting poorer while giant corporations are seeing record profits.”
While it’s true that readily available vaccinations and the economy’s reopening will allow many Georgians to get back to work, many still face an uphill battle for stability. That makes it more critical than ever to strengthen our communities by providing lifelines for those who need a little support to stay on their feet, including the housing and hunger services HOPE Atlanta’s supporters help provide.
Put your HOPE in Action. Help families keep their homes.
With your donation, you’ll help us provide the lifeline a family needs to avoid homelessness and hunger. You’ll help provide HOPE.
*Eviction Moratorium Update (8/10/21): the federal government reinstated a temporary ban on evictions after the CDC’s eviction moratorium expired on July 31st. While this will buy some time for households at risk of eviction, the order is being challenged in the court systems. Meanwhile, thousands of Georgians face a very uncertain future. Please help us continue to support them during these challenging times!
For anyone who’s interested in learning more about the current state of the moratorium and how the pandemic has affected homelessness in Georgia, this episode of GPB’s “Georgia Today” gives a great breakdown.