Peoplestown residents, Bertha and Robert Darden, Tanya Washington, Ms. Mattie Jackson and her family and Dwayne Adgar, have been fighting to stay in their homes for more than 8 years. Two of the families have received eviction notices from the City’s attorneys, calling for their immediate displacement.
Monday, November 1, 2021
Friday, April 30, 2021
|It was clear that Biden & his staff saw the banner|
Yesterday we called on President Biden to stop blocking a proposal from South Africa and India to temporarily waive patent rules at the World Trade Organization that are limiting global production of life-saving COVID vaccines and treatment. They will also call on big pharma companies to share vaccine technology through the COVID-19 Technology Access Pool.
Biden has the power to save millions of people and stop the virus from mutating further. The question is, why is he dragging his feet as bodies burn in the streets of India?
Follow the hashtag #FreeTheVaccine to find out more.
Thursday, April 15, 2021
By Jay Ahmed, ATLEJ Home Defender
Two things have happened over
the last 6 months: 61 ultra-wealthy billionaire landlords saw their wealth increase by $24.4 billion, and I worked as an Enrollment Specialist for a
non-profit organization that was one of dozens contracted by the City of Atlanta to distribute well over $20,000,000 in COVID-19 emergency
housing relief aid. I will explain how the two are related. The organization I
worked for, and most other organizations that distribute rental assistance, operated under a basic system of:
1. Having individuals fill out applications for assistance.
2. Screening applicants to ensure they have valid leases, mortgages, and financial documents proving COVID-19 hardship.
3. Filling out income verification forms, eligibility letters, W9's, landlord rental verification forms for applicants with leases, among other forms.
Once we verified with landlords or property managers that applicants were indeed current residents with outstanding balances, we would then submit the complete application to the data team/financial department for checks to be sent out and files audited.
Within its first few months,
the popularity of the program had spread and it was not long before an influx
of applicants and a lack of staffing caused my nonprofit's quality checks and standard
practices to loosen. Specifically, after 3 months of administering the program, our rule stating that applicants
needed to have an outstanding balance was not practiced. It became common to
have applicants applying for prospective rental assistance-- for example, John applies for May rental assistance in April, before May rent is due.
Because the process time from application to check takes about a month, we began to pay property managers and utility companies for individuals who in the beginning of the program would not be qualified to receive assistance.
Additionally, late fees were not paid by the COVID-19 Emergency Housing Assistance Fund at first, but a revision changed that. Our "training" stated that it was our responsibility to negotiate late fees with property managers or landlords, but after speaking to a majority of my co-workers I found that none of them negotiate late fees.
Late fees can often make up 20%-35% of the assistance we send to property managers and landlords. When this is extrapolated, the amount of financial assistance wasted on landlords immorally charging tenants late fees during a pandemic and economic crisis is morally disturbing. What is worse is that my nonprofit facilitated this on a daily basis.
I would often catch individuals applying with what I knew was an obvious fake lease and forged separation letter. When I would bring these concerns to my manager, I would often be told "you're not paid to be a detective" or something similar in a dismissive fashion. To my supervisors' credit, they were just trying to logistically get through as many applications as possible. But an important observation I made while working in that system is that the City of Atlanta (and most of Georgia) has virtually no regulations for what can considered reasonable late fees. I’ve seen late fees that charge $15 for every day the rent is late, with no cap limit. The contractual language in the leases I’ve seen are textbook ‘predatorial’.
Nonetheless, this pandering to landlords and misuse of government funds specifically meant to help tenants is a microcosm of the bigger issue at hand: the continued wealth extraction from poor communities of color by thieving landlords, rental assistance organizations that enable landlords, and the courts and law that make these egregious acts legal.
Tuesday, September 29, 2020
Uninhabitable living conditions including mold and raw sewage, constant threats of eviction over petty lease violations, ignored maintenance requests, and constant harassment from onsight management are just some of the reason's Trestletree tenants banded together to form a Tenant Association at the beginning of the Summer.
Monday, March 16, 2020
- Publicly confirm that tenants will not receive default judgments for failing to answer a dispossessory warrant or failing to appear in court throughout the declared Superior Court Judicial Emergency period.
- Stop accepting eviction filings during the declared Superior Court Judicial Emergency period, to avoid extreme backlog in the courts and mass displacement.
- Suspend signing of applications for writ of possession through May 10 2020, in accordance with the guidance from the CDC which recommends the cancellation of all in-person events involving 50 or more people for the next 8 weeks.
- Meet with the non-profit, Housing Justice League, and other agencies that work on issues of housing stability and tenants’ rights to develop plans for the period following the health crisis, in recognition that weeks of unemployment and non-payment will result in renters across the city being unable to make rent and extreme backlog in the courts. Plans would need to include public rental assistance and reasonable repayment plans for those who lost wages during the pandemic and its aftermath.On Wednesday March 11 Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms, issued an Administrative Order halting the termination of water services for people who fall behind on their water bills. This was an important step to addressing the crisis but it is not enough. Low-income hourly wage workers and renters will face serious financial hardship in the coming weeks and months. Our local governments must do everything within their power to protect people from financial ruin and increased risks to health. For these reasons, the undersigned organizations endorse this letter. Please respond to this letter by no later than Wednesday March 18 by 5:00 pm detailing how you will act on points 1 through 4.
Housing Justice LeagueSPARK Reproductive Justice Now!AMPLIFY GARaksha, Inc.BYP 100 ATL/Mecca ChapterSoutherners on New Ground (SONG)American Friends Service CommitteeMuslims for Progressive Values-AtlantaGeorgia Working Families PartyThe New Georgia ProjectTwice as Good, inc.IWOC ATLThe Come Up ProjectGangstas to GrowersThe Southern Center for Human Rights
Why do we Need to Stop Evictions Now and Following the Health Crisis?
The coronavirus is spreading rapidly throughout the United States and poses a dire threat to public health and economic security, especially for working class people who do not have the option of working from home and who are paid by the hour. Our organizations work with economically precarious communities who are not paid a living wage and live paycheck to paycheck.
The potential of losing housing further increases the risk to public health as it forces people to keep working. If people are to lose their housing in the midst of a public health crisis, all efforts at containment would be further compromised. The CDC currently recommends that all individuals who are diagnosed or expect a diagnosis of COVID-19 should self-quarantine for 14 days. Without emergency protections in place, Fulton County residents facing housing insecurity will be unable to afford self-quarantine. To protect the public, we must make staying at home accessible.Fulton County and Atlanta Public Schools are closed. At this time many parents need to be with their children and shouldn’t risk losing their housing as a result.
At present, we do not yet know how long we may need to undertake practices of social distancing. For families that may be subject to unpaid sick leave or forced work stoppages, the front-end costs of preparation (buying food and other necessities) will deplete most of their savings, with little or nothing leftover for rent.
If a renter loses their housing due to an eviction during the public health crisis, the direct service organizations that serve displaced persons and families will be even more burdened than they already are at this time.Residents experiencing homelessness are particularly vulnerable to COVID-19 as they often lack access to necessary preventative measures. Mass evictions will amplify an already precarious public health crisis.