Atlanta City Council to vote on $15 million in federal aid for renters

Atlanta could use $15 million from U.S. Treasury Department to aid families seeking assistance to pay rent and utilities during the pandemic. (Dreamstime)

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Atlanta could use $15 million from U.S. Treasury Department to aid families seeking assistance to pay rent and utilities during the pandemic. (Dreamstime)

Atlanta renters still face a deep need for assistance, so the City Council is expected to vote Monday on a plan to direct more than $15.2 million in pandemic relief funding toward that purpose.

The funding comes from the U.S. Treasury Department’s Emergency Rental Assistance Program to support families struggling to pay utilities and remain in their homes. Atlanta previously received $22 million from the program, but Deputy Chief Operating Officer Lachandra Butler-Burks said the city is on track is spend all of that funding by month’s end.

So far, Atlanta has allocated more than $17.4 million to more than 5,900 homes during the coronavirus pandemic, she said. United Way president and CEO Milton Little said families seeking rental aid receive up to $15,000 under the program.

In-person applicants can seek funding April 1, and the online portal opens May 1. Funds can be used for rent dated back to March 13, 2020, and landlords can apply directly, Butler-Burks said.

ExploreHousing crisis will outlast aid money

On Tuesday, the council’s Community Development/Human Services Committee passed rental legislation to the full council. Sponsored by Councilmember Andrea L. Boone, it would extend the city’s contract with the United Way, which administers Atlanta’s rental assistance program, through Dec. 31.

Boone also drafted the legislation to amend the city’s CARES Act budget to include the new funding from the Treasury program.

Atlanta allocated $22 million of its $88 million in federal Coronavirus Aid Relief and Economic Security Act funds to rental assistance last year, but statistics suggested it wouldn’t be enough to meet the needs.

The city is poised to receive a new $165 million from the $1.9 trillion federal American Rescue Plan package signed by President Joe Biden Thursday. It remains to be seen how the city will use those dollars, but Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution in a statement that the funds could further support renters.

City Councilman Matt Westmoreland, who chairs the Community Development committee, said Atlanta has until year’s end to spend the Treasury funds.

“This pandemic has created enormous strain on millions of renters across the country and renters in Atlanta are no exception,” he said. “I’m excited we’ve got this new allocation that will allow us to serve another 4,000 families in the weeks and months ahead.”