DeKalb County’s local eviction ban set to expire

DeKalb County Chief Superior Court Judge Asha Jackson. SPECIAL PHOTO

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DeKalb County Chief Superior Court Judge Asha Jackson. SPECIAL PHOTO

Nearly half of the county’s federal rental assistance funds are still undistributed

DeKalb County’s local ban on evictions will expire Wednesday.

The countywide eviction moratorium — believed to be the only such arrangement in the state — bought more time for DeKalb renters and landlords in need after the United States Supreme Court shot down the most recent iteration of a national ban late last month.

But nearly half of the $21 million that DeKalb County originally set aside for rental assistance remains unspent. And officials said more than 2,200 applications for help are still pending.

“This moratorium has given thousands of residents facing eviction the opportunity to apply for and receive assistance to alleviate their housing insecurity through the DeKalb Tenant-Landlord Assistance Coalition program,” DeKalb CEO Michael Thurmond said in a news release. “We will continue to distribute TLAC funds until they are gone.”

DeKalb Chief Superior Court Judge Asha Jackson put the countywide eviction moratorium in place in late July, citing the ongoing pandemic and public health concerns that could result from large numbers of people being displaced from their homes.

At the time, 145 writs of eviction had already been scheduled to be executed in DeKalb; around 1,650 more were pending with the local marshal’s office; and at least 3,000 more were estimated to be at earlier stages of the process.

Jackson’s order remained in effect when the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s nationwide ban lapsed for a few days in early August, and again when the nation’s highest court struck down a new version of the CDC’s moratorium later that month.

The county moratorium was extended for 30 days beyond its original term — but that period ends on Wednesday.

A press release issued by the county on Tuesday made it clear the ban would not be extended again.

Like other large jurisdictions throughout the state and the country, DeKalb received federal stimulus dollars to provide rental assistance to local tenants and landlords affected by the pandemic. The first round included a total of about $21 million.

Thanks in part to a cyberattack that wiped out early emails to and applications for the assistance program, DeKalb’s distribution of funds started out very slowly. Several months into the program, the county had given out just 3.5% of the available money.

Things have picked up dramatically since then, and the local moratorium gave DeKalb residents an extra layer of protection. But the county still lags many of its metro Atlanta counterparts.

DeKalb officials said that, as of Monday, about 1,600 households had been assisted with rent and utilities. About $10.9 million — or 52% of the county’s initial funding — had been distributed.

Officials in neighboring Gwinnett County, meanwhile, said Monday they had distributed about 60% of their $28.1 million. Cobb County had distributed about 67% of its nearly $23 million.

Fulton County had distributed nearly all of the $18 million it received in the first round of federal funding. The city of Atlanta’s initial $15.2 million was on track to be fully expended by mid-October, an official said.