Tucker to use $1.2M in pandemic relief funds for rent, utility assistance

City of Tucker

Credit: City of Tucker

Credit: City of Tucker

City of Tucker

Tucker is partnering with a nonprofit to provide more than $1 million worth of rent and utility relief to residents who are financially struggling due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The City Council unanimously approved a $1,226,000 contract with NETWorks Cooperative Ministry to help hundreds of families who are behind on rent payments. The city is funding the program with nearly a fifth of its 2021 allocation of American Rescue Plan Act funds, President Joe Biden’s $1.9-trillion stimulus package.

NETWorks Cooperative Ministry, a charity made of up several churches in north DeKalb County, told the city it’s still seeing lots of need in the area, according to a memo by Assistant City Manager John McHenry.

“Each month, they have to tell families that the budget has been exhausted for assistance, despite a valid and often critical need,” the memo said. “They routinely receive messages stating a family faces eviction if they can’t get financial assistance soon.”

DeKalb is the only Georgia county that has its own eviction moratorium after the U.S. Supreme Court struck down the nationwide eviction ban by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The county’s moratorium is set to expire at the end of September, and Tucker leaders anticipate an increase in rent relief for the rest of the year.

“The need is great and without assistance many families will face eviction and homelessness in the middle of a resurgent COVID variant,” the memo continued.

In 2020, the city gave NETWork Cooperative Ministries $780,000 in Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act funds to disburse to families in need. Those funds were used by December.

This summer, the charity polled 19 apartment complexes in Tucker to try to quantify need in the city. Of the nine that responded, more than 500 households were behind on rent, with a total amount due of nearly $2 million. This doesn’t include homeowners who are behind on their mortgages or smaller rental housing communities.

To qualify for assistance, households must have a combined income of less than 80% of the area median income. In Tucker, that’s $49,439 for a single person and $69,239 for a family of four. Every additional family member adds $6,600 to that requirement. The relief program can cover costs incurred from Oct. 13, 2021, through Feb. 28, 2022.

Tucker received about $6.8 million in American Rescue Plan Act funds this summer. It will receive another $6.8 million next year. The city plans to use the remainder of its 2021 allocation for infrastructure and greenspace projects.