by Robin Kemp
Many Clayton County residents are facing eviction as of Sept. 1, after the end of COVID-19 supplemental unemployment aid. Although the statewide judicial emergency stopped the process for a time, Magistrate Court is hearing dispossessory cases again.
According to a June 26 order by Chief Magistrate Court Judge Wanda Dallas, in the case of a tenant in default who did not file an answer before March 13, the court may grant a writ of possession once the landlord files an online application for dispossessory writ of possession. That’s a request for a court order forcing the tenant to leave.
If a landlord has filed a case after March 14, Magistrate Court has set up Zoom meetings for both voluntary mediation and trials:
- Magistrate Court mails packets to the landlord.
- The landlord completes a CARES Act Affidavit and a Certification of Availability for Video Mediation and/or Trial.
- The landlord files both the affidavit and the certification with the court.
- A copy of the dispossessory affidavit, a summons, and a certification form are forwarded to the Clayton County Sheriff’s Office.
- CCSO serves the tenant with the paperwork.
- The tenant must file the completed certification and an answer with the court.
- The court sets a date and time for either the video mediation or the video trial.
Whether you are a tenant or a landlord, the Clayton County Community Service Authority offers financial assistance to help keep people from losing their homes.
Executive Director Rhonda Kindred said, “What’s happening today with the moratorium (on evictions) being lifted, we’re here to service the clients. We’ve have gotten an influx of applications. Just this morning alone, I checked my e-mail server, there were about 20 on there at 4:30 this morning. By noon, it was 120. So we’reactually trying to get through the numbers and get through the applications, so that we can bring the clients in, get their information, and move forward trying to assist them.”
Those who have been hit hardest, Kindred said, are single mothers–about 85 percent, the “vast majority” of whom are women. Some are fathers and some are veterans. Some have been behind since March 31. Others got behind when the $600 federal COVID-19 supplemental payments ended July 31.
Most people seeking assistance have been laid off from customer service, restaurants, food service, and airport-related jobs, she said.
“Right now, we’re doing the best we can to sort out their information, get them an application, and kind of move forward trying to assist them if we don’t have the resources or if it appears that there’s something else going on, we refer them out to additional agencies,” Kindred said.
That assistance could be booking someone into a hotel room, getting landlords to waive fees, or helping people find their own new place.
Clayton County CSA has some funds to help people stay in place and is working with landlords and apartment complexes to waive fees. The agency is also inviting landlords to a luncheon where they can discuss strategies for solving the problem.
To apply for rental assistance, download and print the application, fill it out, and return it to Clayton County CSA:
- by mail to Rental Assistance, 1000 Main St., P.O. Box 1808, Forest Park, GA 30297
- by e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org
For help with other needs like food, utilities, and heating assistance, visit https://www.claytoncountycsa.org/.