COLUMBUS, Ga. (WTVM) - As the pandemic continues, many renters are on the brink of eviction and the demand for rental assistance programs throughout the community is sky-rocketing.
Some new funding awarded to the state through the Federal Emergency Rental Assistance program could help alleviate some of the pressure though.
Georgia Governor Brian Kemp says $552 million will be put aside and given to the Department of Community Affairs (DCA) to distribute to landlords and community outreach programs that qualify.
Shameki Henderson fell behind on her rent payments after making the decision to stay home with her children who were doing virtual learning instruction. When she got served an eviction notice, she started reaching out for help.
“They put a notice on my door and said I had to come up with the money or I had to leave,” Henderson said. ”That is when I came across St. Anne and they were able to help catch me up in my rent payments so my children and I would not be evicted.”
According to Katie Byers, the director of the St. Anne Community Outreach Center, since the start of the pandemic, they have nearly doubled the amount of rental assistance given to people in need.
In order to keep that going, the $552 million recently allocated to Georgia in stimulus funds through the federal Emergency Rental Assistance program will help keep their program running.
”We are seeing large families with rent behind about six to eight months with no hope of catching up. So, this new money is really important to help prevent these families from getting evicted,” Byers said.
The new funding will be available through DCA.
According to Columbus Mayor Skip Henderson, he is already having discussions with the DCA commissioner to figure out how to best take advantage of the money.
“We are going to bring him into town next week to talk and strategize about how to make these funds accessible to use,” Henderson said.
Home for Good through the United Way of the Chattahoochee Valley is another resource in the community that, like St. Anne, is also seeing an uptick in rental assistance needs.
”It is really a ray of sunshine, but we really need to get on it now,” said Pat Frey, vice president of Home for Good.
The DCA plans to launch the public application portal in March when at that time, organizations like these may apply and hopefully receive some help to continue to offer assistance to those in need.
Something else for renters to be aware of is the current eviction moratorium issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has been extended until March 31. This means if you go to their website and fill the form and take that along with your eviction notice to the court, your eviction could be delayed.