by Robin Kemp
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has placed another hold on evictions until October 3, 2021.
The CDC says it is “temporarily halting evictions in counties with heightened levels of community transmission in order to respond to recent, unexpected developments in the trajectory of the COVID-19 pandemic, including the rise of the Delta variant. It is intended to target specific areas of the country where cases are rapidly increasing, which likely would be exacerbated by mass evictions.”
Clayton County is still accepting Emergency Rental Assistance Program (ERAP) applications as of August 4. The program “is designed to provide funds to renters delinquent on rent payments due to Coronavirus (COVID-19) impacts.”
You can apply online at relief.claytoncountyga.gov. If you have questions about the application process, you can call the Clayton County Emergency Rental Assistance program at (404) 858-6147 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
Just before the new extension was announced, The Clayton Crescent had checked with Clayton County agencies and learned that no evictions had been reported as of press time Monday evening. The Clayton County Sheriff’s Office, which executes evictions, did not respond to a request for information about how many evictions it had done since the first moratorium ended on July 31.
“We’ve been advised there are no reported evictions at this time,” said county spokeswoman Valerie Fuller. “Continuous efforts are ongoing to build relationships with landlords and property management companies to keep Clayton county residents stable in their homes.”
Clayton County has an online portal for its Project RESET at https://relief.claytoncountyga.gov/project-reset-eviction-assistance/.
“We currently have 250 applications that have been submitted for processing,” Fuller said, “but 987 applications are in progress, meaning not completed.”
The Clayton County Community Services Authority’s rental assistance program is closed until October. However, that notice on CCCSA’s website had been replaced by a web flyer for the Clayton County ERAP program as of Wednesday night.
Just before the CDC extended the moratorium, we asked Executive Director Dr. Rhonda Kindred to tell us how the agency is helping local residents:
CC: Is your agency getting more requests for help? When you have to turn them away for now, where do you refer them to?
Kindred: YES – Requests for assistance have been steady throughout the pandemic. We refer them to United Way 211 to search for resources. Currently, we also refer them to Clayton County Emergency Rental Assistance. We tell the client to work with their landlord and if eviction has been filed to make sure they answer to appear to the court; assistance and additional programs may be available.
CC: Is the Clayton County Project RESET a different program or is it the same thing you are offering? If different, what relationship if any is there between the two–are you coordinating efforts?
Kindred: It is the same programming we offered. We do not mediate with the courts but we do mediate with landlords directly before the matter goes to eviction.
CC: How many people did you normally serve with rental assistance each month prior to COVID-19? How has that changed during the CDC’s eviction moratorium and how has it changed now that the moratorium has ended?
Kindred: We normally serve between 75 to 150 clients with rental assistance. Since March 16, 2020 – the onset of COVID-19–we have served 1,369 people with housing assistance. Again, we continue to have a study stream of requests.
CC: What is the disconnect with landlords who refuse to take rental assistance? Does your program pay landlords or can you disburse funds to renters seeking new places to live?
Kindred: We make the payment directly to the landlords. We find that when the landlords refuse to take the payment there is a history for non-payment from that client or the client has proven to be un-neighborly, disruptive, or unruly to the extent that management has decided not to accept payment for rent in arrears.
CC: Anything else people who are being evicted should know about what’s happening now and where to get help?
Kindred: We have had an upswing in person contacting us the week the eviction stay expired. However, our housing programming is closed until the next federal fiscal year (October 1). United Way 211 has a list of resources that are available by county or city in the state. The Salvation Army may have resources as well.
For more information about evictions, see the Georgia Landlord-Tenant Handbook.
For free legal help, call Legal Aid at (404) 669-0233.
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