DeKalb closing applications for rent assistance program

Monica Griffin at her apartment in Stonecrest. (Curtis Compton / ccompton@ajc.com)
Monica Griffin at her apartment in Stonecrest. (Curtis Compton / ccompton@ajc.com)

Credit: Curtis Compton / ccompton@ajc.com

Credit: Curtis Compton / ccompton@ajc.com

Officials cited an ‘overwhelming response’ to the $21 million initiative

DeKalb County will soon close applications for its new rental assistance program, citing “overwhelming response” from local tenants and landlords.

The cutoff is at 5 p.m. Monday.

Officials said Friday that more than 7,000 people had applied for the tenant-landlord assistance coalition (TLAC) program in the week since applications were opened. The $21-million program — made possible through a federal grant — is aimed at preventing evictions driven by the COVID-19 pandemic.

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“This has been a huge illustration of the need caused by the ongoing pandemic,” DeKalb CEO Michael Thurmond said in a news release. “Tenants and landlords alike are suffering because of the financial and economic effects of COVID-19.”

Both tenants and landlords can apply for the TLAC program, which brings together court officials, the DeKalb County Marshal’s Office, Atlanta Legal Aid, Goodwill of North Georgia and mediators from the Dispute Resolution Center to try and keep residents who owe back rent or utilities off the streets.

Once approved for the program, participants will be contacted by a mediator or representative from Legal Aid. If an agreement is reached on what is owed and the best path forward, corresponding documents are filed in magistrate court. A judge would then issue an order directing Goodwill of North Georgia, which is acting as administrator of the grant, to send payment either to the renter or directly to the landlord.

It remains unclear how many people the program will be able to help before funds are exhausted, but the need is great. Chief Magistrate Judge Berryl Anderson said last week that there were approximately 8,000 dispossessory cases on file in DeKalb County.

Javoyne Hicks, DeKalb’s clerk of state and magistrate courts, said that in addition to the 7,000 applications already submitted, the TLAC program website had been visited 41,000 times and officials had received 8,500 emails.

To submit an application or find more information, visit dekalbcountyga.gov/renthelp or call 404-371-3201.

An application does not guarantee acceptance into the program.

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