Why are nearly a quarter of Georgia renters living on the brink?
A fourth of Georgia renters are considered ‘extremely low income.’ Inflation and rising housing prices are threatening their livelihoods.
According to a YouGov survey conducted in March, Americans “place a higher value on homeownership than on any other indicator of economic stability, including a successful career and a college education.” And yet, just over half of homes sold in Q1 2022 in the U.S. were affordable to families earning the U.S. median income.
While there has been plenty of buzz around soaring housing prices and middle-class families priced out of home ownership, another lesser-known (but equally menacing) problem has been brewing in Georgia. Countless individuals and families can’t even afford to rent.
The NLIHC’s 2022 Georgia Housing Profile reported a shortage of affordable rentals across the state. Nearly a quarter of renters in Georgia fall into the “extremely low income” category. Most of these are working families (41%), seniors (22%), or people with disabilities (17%). 73% are considered severely cost-burdened, spending more than half of their income on housing.
Many must sacrifice necessities like food or healthcare to pay rent, forcing them into unstable housing situations where eviction is an ever-present threat. Meanwhile, prices on everything from gasoline to baby formula are surging, putting even more stress on low-income households.
Inequality is more pronounced than ever, and Georgia communities must stay aware of these conditions and work to advocate for and protect vulnerable households. Here are just a few ways we’re helping at HOPE Atlanta, this summer and beyond.
The “Motels to Home” Program
Homelessness doesn’t always mean being unsheltered. Countless individuals and families are part of the “hidden homeless” population, living in unstable situations like motels or vehicles. For those staying in motels, assistance with expenses like security deposits or utilities can mean the difference between staying in a motel room and transitioning to more stable housing.
“The majority are single mothers,” said one HOPE Atlanta case manager. “A lot of them are looking for second-chance housing.”
HOPE Atlanta’s Motels to Home program helps connect people with affordable housing options while providing resources to set them up for long-term success.
Eviction Prevention and Rental Assistance
Between July 2020 and July 2021, HOPE Atlanta helped prevent 2,365 evictions. While eviction concerns loomed large during COVID and the pandemic economy, prevention is still a massive need as families struggle to make ends meet.
According to Latricia Nation, Director of Veteran Services, landlord retention has been a particular challenge in this economy. “The housing market is booming, so people want to sell their houses.”
She noted that most of her veteran clients need prevention services, and HOPE Atlanta works constantly to provide creative solutions and “wraparound services” to prevent homelessness for those at risk.
Closing the Summer Meal Gap
At the end of June, when coronavirus school nutrition waivers expire, up to a million Georgia children will face food insecurity. While the Smart Lunch Smart Kid summer meal initiative (previously an Action Ministries program) has helped close the summer meal gap since 2021, summer hunger has taken on a new urgency.
Smart Lunch Smart Kid volunteers assemble and distribute meals to neighborhoods and other locations in Fulton and Carroll counties, providing a critical safety net to help families stretch their budgets. View volunteer opportunities here.
Individualized Housing Support
Aside from a dire shortage of affordable housing options, people often face individual challenges that prevent them from securing stable housing: from poor credit to disabilities and mental illnesses. HOPE Atlanta’s case managers work 1–1 with people experiencing or at risk of homelessness, connecting them to the resources they need to reclaim stability — including plenty of moral support. Because every person deserves to have HOPE.
We need your help to continue supporting Georgians in need all year long! Joining the HOPE365 monthly giving program is like putting an act of kindness on auto-pay, just like any other monthly expense! Subscribe to making a difference today with your recurring gift to HOPE Atlanta.