Atlanta rent relief program expanding to reach more families, include mortgage help

Credit: File

Credit: File

The city of Atlanta’s $22 million rent relief program meant to help families stay in their homes is expanding to reach more people.

Administered through United Way of Greater Atlanta, the program provides direct assistance for low-income renters who are at risk of eviction. The program got off to a slow start, though, with fewer than 1,000 renters receiving assistance after about two months. Officials have a goal of helping between 5,000 and 7,000 people.

The program had faced criticism from some local housing advocates who said there should be fewer barriers for renters to get help. Now, United Way is loosening some of the requirements and extending its reach.

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The program will now include mortgage assistance, United Way spokesman Chad Parker said. The maximum amount a household can receive was also increased from $3,000 to $5,000, “to help the many people who have larger amounts of back-rent due as well as mortgage payments due,” Parker said.

The income limit for rents to qualify for the program was expanded, from 60% of the area median income (about $5,000 for a family of four) to 80% (about $66,000). To qualify for mortgage assistance, homeowners must make less than 100% of the area median income, which is $82,700 for a family of four.

Atlanta is using federal CARES Act funds to pay for the program, which has helped about 1,300 families so far. The deadline for the CARES money to be spend is the end of the year.

About two weeks ago, United Way officials said nearly 8,000 people had applied for assistance, but about half were not eligible for the program because they did not live in the city of Atlanta. For those who were eligible, many did not provide the required documentation to receive aid.

United Way is also visiting apartment complexes and hosting several in-person events to help people with the application. A full schedule is on the agency’s website.