Georgia’s Rental Assistance Program Provides Rental, Utility and Housing Stability Assistance to 35K Tenants Statewide
As America continues to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic’s overwhelming impact, many Georgians received aid that prevented evictions, housing instability, and loss of utilities. Georgia’s Rental Assistance Program (GRA) hit record numbers this week, helping to keep more than 35,000 tenants in their homes.
The Georgia Department of Community Affairs (DCA) administers the GRA program. Since its inception, in March 2021, qualified Georgians have received more than $288M in rental assistance from two federal funds, labeled Emergency Rental Assistance 1 and 2. DCA also voluntarily reallocated $237.8M to aid rental assistance programs in Augusta, Savannah, the city of Atlanta, Fulton DeKalb, Cobb, Henry, Gwinnett, Clayton and Hall counties. These cities and counties had federally established rental assistance programs with depleted funds and applicants in need of assistance. The GRA voluntary reallocation provided a win-win for all the state’s rental assistance programs. In DeKalb County, this reallocation helped process 5,000 pending applications in their system. In Fulton, Cobb and Gwinnett counties funds were completely depleted until GRA’s voluntary reallocations allowed them to continue to offer assistance to applicants.
Georgia received $552 million for the ERA1 program from the U.S. Department of the Treasury, the federal agency that also established the qualification guidelines. To qualify for these funds, applicants must demonstrate a financial hardship directly related to the coronavirus pandemic and have a household income that is less than 80% of the average median income (AMI) for their area and it must be related to a financial hardship that occurred since the beginning of the pandemic on March 13, 2020. An applicant laid off due to the pandemic may qualify for this program provided other qualifications are met.
The U.S. Department of the Treasury allocated the state of Georgia an additional $437 million for the ERA2 program. This program requires applicants to demonstrate a financial hardship that does not have to be COVID-related and have a household income that is less than 80% of the average median income (AMI) for their area; however, it must be related to a financial hardship that occurred since the beginning of the pandemic on March 13, 2020. An applicant with a divorce that finalized during this period, causing a financial hardship, may qualify for this program, provided other qualifications are met.
“The GRA team has worked diligently to process thousands of applications per week resulting in a monthly disbursement of $52.4M to landlords, service providers and tenants in need of rental, utility and housing stability assistance for the month of June,” said DCA Commissioner Christopher Nunn. “The GRA program remains committed to ensuring that all qualifying Georgians are provided with the assistance they need to avoid eviction and remain in their homes with their families.”
T. Fields, a South Georgia native, agrees, “Thanks to the GRA program for saving me,” she said. “I have a roof over mine and my dog Chanel’s head and a place to continue calling home. My grandkids have a place to come on the weekends. “I am grateful,” she added.
Disbursements of ERA1 program funds will end when the funds are exhausted or by September 30, 2022, whichever occurs first. However, those needing rental, utility and housing stability assistance who meet program qualifications can still apply for the ERA2 program funds as several million dollars remain.
To determine eligibility and apply, visit paymyrent.ga.gov.