Through its cities, Fulton County has decided to offer qualifying residents COVID-19-related rental and utilities assistance of $1,300 and $200, respectively, for six months total.
“This represents a good balance of the plan options we had,” Fulton COO Anna Roach said.
Roach and other county officials spoke about the program at the Fulton Board of Commissioners’ Feb. 17 recess meeting, which was held virtually due to the coronavirus pandemic. The county announced the program, funded by $18 million in federal COVID-19 relief aid and starting March 1, at the board’s Feb. 12 special called mayors’ meeting.
The city of Atlanta is separate from the program since it’s getting its own funding from the feds. At the mayors’ meeting, the county laid out four possible scenarios to dole out the funds: 12 monthly payments of $2,000 for an estimated 900 households, six payments of $2,000 for 1,800 households, 12 payments of $1,500 for 1,200 households or six payments of $1,500 for 2,400 households.
Though no decision was made then, Roach said the county was leaning toward capping payments at $1,500 per household because that option will serve more residents and is close to Fulton’s average rent of $1,300. Some officials offered their own suggestions about the program.
“Would it be better to cut back from six (months) to three but to double (the number of recipients) so we help more people who need assistance?” Johns Creek Mayor Mike Bodker said. “That’s just the way I’m hearing it from a pure numbers perspective. I would just want to get something over nothing.”
In choosing the $1,500 total/six-month option Roach said the county “did take the feedback we got from the mayors and board at the mayors’ meeting.”
The initiative’s funding is coming through the U.S. Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021, which was approved by Congress in December and includes COVID-19 relief funds. To qualify, residents must meet the following eligibility requirements:
♦ has a household income at or below 80% of the area median income
♦ qualifies for unemployment or has experienced a reduction in household income, incurs significant costs or experienced a financial hardship due to the pandemic
♦ demonstrates a risk of experiencing homelessness or housing instability
District 6 Commissioner Khadijah Abdur-Rahman said the funds should go to residents facing evictions, adding the county’s court system this year already has about 45,000 dispossessories, or eviction proceeding documents brought against tenants by their landlords, up from 25,000 in 2020.
“I just think it would behoove us as county commissioners to request humbly that they (the courts) be included in briefings because the nature of the work they’re doing is very essential to chart what’s happening,” she said.
For more information on the program, visit www.fultoncountyga.gov/rentalassistance.