“Myself and my kids are so grateful to you all. You really reached out to us when we needed it the most.” – Emergency Housing Assistance Program funding recipient Jallow Hadijjatou

Like so many City of Atlanta residents, Jallow Hadijjatou lost her job at the start of pandemic. A single mother and im

migrant, the stress of caring for her family without a job quickly set in. According to the US Census Bureau, there are approximately 13.6 million single parents in the U.S., raising 22.4 million children. And eighty percent of those single parents are moms like Jallow.

The strain the pandemic has put on single mothers is heartbreaking. According to the University of Oregon study Home Alone: The Pandemic Is Overloading Single-parent Families, researchers note the impact of COVID-19 is more distressing for single parent families than other types of households.

While unemployed, Jallow, like most parents during the pandemic, became an at-home teacher’s assistant, helping her children navigate remote learning. When school was done for the day, she tried to keep them busy – all while dealing with the worry of affording rent and utilities. As lockdown stretched on, Jallow continued to search high and low for a job, but rent payments were a continuous struggle and were piling up. According to the Federal Reserve of Atlanta’s one-year study of the pandemic, more than 60 thousand evictions were filed. That number has now grown.

After hearing about rental assistance programs, Jallow decided to shift her focus on the short term. Through the Emergency Housing Assistance Program and United Way of Greater Atlanta’s partner, Housing Plus, Jallow connected to a case manager who listened to her experiences and provided personalized care and rental assistance. Jallow and her children were able to stay in their apartment, and focus on school in a stable home environment.

United Way of Greater Atlanta and the City of Atlanta recently announced that the Emergency Housing Assistance Program re-opened October 4th to distribute an additional $12M in Department of Treasury funding received through the United States Treasury. The current Emergency Housing Assistance Program – totaling $15.2M in federal funds – is on track to distribute the entire amount by mid-October. Since August 2020, through both the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (“CARES Act”) and the US Treasury, the Emergency Rental Assistance program has helped more than 7,800 individuals and families affected by the COVID-19 pandemic stay in their homes.

According to the NY Times, about 89 percent of rental assistance funds have not been distributed nationally,” says Milton J. Little, Jr. President and CEO of United Way of Greater Atlanta. “We’re proud to say that we are on track to spend the full amount of previous American Rescue Plan Act dollars. Now, with the additional funding, we hope to help an additional 2,000 families.”

Since August 2020, United Way of Greater Atlanta has partnered with the City of Atlanta, Curry Davis Consulting Group, and agency partners on the Emergency Housing Assistance Program. Having a roof over your head and having a stable place to call home is foundational to United Way of Greater Atlanta’s Child Well-Being mission. Families that have been evicted or face eviction deal with a number of factors including keeping children in school, maintaining stable employment and protecting their health. According to Bloomberg News, “Evictions touch households beyond just those who receive an order to vacate. People who get evicted from their homes tend to double up, moving in with friends or family, or going to shelters. These outcomes make for more crowded households, increasing the points of contact between a home and the outside world, and creating more exposure opportunity for someone who hasn’t gotten the vaccine.” That’s why United Way of Greater Atlanta joined the City of Atlanta to help get federal funding out as quickly as possible to people most in need through the Atlanta COVID-19 Emergency Housing Assistance Program.

City of Atlanta residential renters who have experienced a loss of income because of COVID-19 will be able to receive assistance with the payment of their past due rent, utility and/or security deposit assistance dating back to March 13, 2020 with an average payment of $3,000 per household. Due to new federal guidelines, mortgage assistance is not available.

Individuals and families impacted and in need of support will have multiple access points to apply for assistance in both English and Spanish. To apply for assistance and view eligibility requirements and FAQs, options include:

  • Access the client application by visiting www.unitedwayatlanta.org or by clicking here.
  • Visit http://211online.unitedwayatlanta.org/
  • Call 2-1-1 to speak with a live 2-1-1 Community Connection Specialist Hours are limited from 8:00 am to 7:00 pm, Monday through Friday. Due to high call volumes, the above listed options are preferred.

Previously published on SaportaReport.com.

Right now, thousands of families across the City of Atlanta are at risk of eviction or homelessness due to COVID-19-related financial hardship. But there’s hope. Get help today through the Atlanta Emergency Housing Assistance Program. To check your eligibility or to apply for funds online, click here. You must be a resident of the City of Atlanta.

Interested in applying with the help of an on-site expert? We are holding outreach events at United Way of Greater Atlanta’s Loudermilk Center. Below are dates and times. The Loudermilk Center is located at 40 Courtland Street NE, Atlanta, 30303. Register here.

**United Way of Greater Atlanta follows CDC guidelines  – requiring masks, social distancing and hand sanitizing – to ensure that we keep everyone safe. 

For a list of eligibility requirements, click here. You must be a resident of the City of Atlanta.

LGBTQ+ youth are at a much greater risk of becoming homeless.

Aaron Rice read this in a report from Covenant House released by Chapin Hall of the University of Chicago and it sent a shock to the system. According to True Colors United, LGBTQ+ youth represent 40 percent of all youth experiencing homelessness. As a gay man working for United Way of Greater Atlanta, Rice knew he wanted to draw attention to this unfortunate fact. What could he do to change it?

He resolved to use his position in the organization to help find solutions and provide stable and secure housing for those LGBTQ+ youth in the community.

“This is something that’s affecting my community personally and it’s something we can help address as an organization,” says Rice, Director of Business Engagement at United Way.

United Way funds local nonprofit organizations that support LGBTQ+ youth and families, but Rice knew we could do more. When we unite for more, more youth can be reached. More lives can be changed.

In January 2021, United Way partnered with the OUT Georgia Business Alliance and launched the OUT Georgia Impact Fund to “drive meaningful, measurable lasting impact for LGBTQ+ communities across the Greater Atlanta region.”

This fund will serve individuals, children and families identifying as LGBTQ+ and would support youth to be stable, secure and college and career ready while also addressing urgent needs and securing the resources they need to thrive.

“I think LGBTQ youth are often underserved,” City of Atlanta’s Director of LGBTQ Affairs Malik Brown says. “We know they are subject to bullying and hate and abuse in their homes and sometimes even conversion therapy—that is really dangerous. There’s a significant portion of youth on the street who identify as LGBTQ youth.

“When I think about support for underserved communities, I think about access to health care, housing and meaningful employment that pays well and gives people purpose.”

In Brown’s position with the City of Atlanta, he works on “anything related to the LGBTQ community for the city,” and he advises Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms on policies and initiatives as they relate to the LGBTQ+ community and across city departments.

OUT Georgia and United Way also plan to use this Impact Fund to bring awareness to the inequities faced by the LGBTQ+ community and increase investments in Black-led LGBTQ+ organizations, as well. Brown says specifically in the LGBTQ+ community, Black and Brown transgender women are some of the most “vulnerable and underserved.”

“I think the most vulnerable people in the LGBTQ community are certainly Black and Brown trans women,” says Brown. “They are murdered at epidemic rates, and trans people overall are vulnerable and underserved. There’s still a significant portion of the population that doesn’t understand what it means to be trans.”

Brown works alongside Rice and other members of OUT Georgia Impact Fund advisory committee to further raise awareness for LGBTQ+ issues and leverage relationships in the business community to embrace collaboration and inclusivity.

Chris Lugo is the Executive Director of the OUT Georgia Business Alliance, which he says is Atlanta’s only LGBTQ+ and Allied Chamber of Commerce. Lugo’s work often intersected with both Rice and Brown, and their conversations shifted to ways United Way, the city and OUT Georgia could combine their expertise to do more for the LGBTQ+ community.

“We were learning more about United Way’s work to serve LGBTQ+ youth and the work they’ve already done with nonprofits,” Lugo says. “We wanted to see how we could leverage [United Way’s] corporate support and our access to the small and mid-sized business community to do some good now and then make a lasting impact and demonstrate the lasting power of the LGBTQ+ community in Georgia.”

OUT Georgia wants to be in “lockstep” with the needs of the community, to listen to organizations and take the time to understand the needs of the LGBTQ+ community, Lugo says.

“We’re working our corporate, small and mid-sized business communities to network and raise money and establish annual priorities with the goal to make grant contributions determined by the advisory board,” Lugo says. “I could see us funding a variety of projects: a youth scholarship fund, investments to Black-led organizations, trans housing projects, providing skills-based resources to LGBTQ+ adults looking to re-enter the workforce.

“The great thing about this Impact Fund is that because those parameters are broad, we’re able to be very flexible.”

And Brown applauds the work of the advisory board for bringing many “diverse voices” to the table. He says the goal in his role with the Mayor’s office and OUT Georgia is to look at issues facing the LGBTQ+ community from a racial equity lens and encourage discussion and opportunities to inform and educate Greater Atlanta.

United Way is an ally of the LGBTQ+ community, Rice says, and now with this Fund, it provides an open door to be vocal and talk more about that allyship—to talk more about what we’ve been doing and to let people know there are resources out there.

“For me, I grew up in rural East Tennessee, which is not the most open or diverse area,” Rice says. “I thought back to the difficulties for me to come out and to accept who I am—if I had been kicked out of the house, which is what we see a lot of, there wouldn’t have been something for me.”

To help provide more resources for LGBTQ+ youth and families, donate today to the OUT Georgia Impact Fund.

ATLANTA – April 15, 2021 – United Way of Greater Atlanta and the City of Atlanta announced today that they will reopen the Atlanta COVID-19 Emergency Housing Assistance Program from April 15 to Dec. 31 with $15.2 million available for rent, utility and security deposit assistance. Due to federal guidelines, the program will no longer provide mortgage assistance. Through the first round of funding for the program, which was supported by CARES dollars, United Way was able to help 6,069 families and individuals affected by the COVID-19 pandemic to stay in their homes.

COVID-19 may be diminishing as a health crisis but it continues to be a full-scale economic and social disaster. Many individuals and families across the City of Atlanta are not yet able to get back on their feet.

Housing instability has been a problem for low-income residents in the City of Atlanta long before the COVID-19 pandemic reached the City of Atlanta. The pandemic has intensified this experience for Atlanta residents, increasing the risk for foreclosure, eviction, and homelessness.

“Housing and economic stability are foundational to child well-being”,  says Milton J. Little, Jr. President and CEO of United Way of Greater Atlanta. “Without this, children and families have little chance of moving out of poverty. We are proud to have helped over 6,000 households to-date. It is our hope to extend that assistance to an additional 4,000 households in our next round of funding beginning in mid-April.”

Incorporated City of Atlanta residential renters who have experienced a loss of income because of COVID-19 will be able to receive assistance with the payment of their past due rent, utilities and security deposit dating back to March 13, 2020. Per federal guidelines for this new round of funding, there is no cap on the assistance amount. The average payment is expected to be $3,000. Landlords can apply directly for assistance.

Individuals and families impacted and in need of support will have multiple access points to apply for assistance in both English and Spanish. To apply for assistance and view eligibility requirements and FAQs, options include:

  • Access the client application by visiting www.unitedwayatlanta.org or by clicking here.
  • Visit http://211online.unitedwayatlanta.org/
  • Call 2-1-1 to speak with a live 2-1-1 Community Connection Specialist Hours are limited from 8:00 am to 7:00 pm, Monday through Friday. Due to high call volumes, the above listed options are preferred.
  • To sign up for in-person events for application assistance, click here.

This story was published originally on Dec. 2, 2020 and has been updated as of March 30, 2021.

 

Jackson Hayes moved to Atlanta from Charlotte, North Carolina to “get out of his comfort zone,” and pursue his interests in entertainment.

“I’m single and live by myself — of course I’ve got some friends and stuff, and they’re like family,” Jackson says, adjusting the bands of a N95 mask as it shifts down the bridge of his nose. “I dance, sing and act as well, and Atlanta is a melting pot for Black entrepreneurs. If you want to try your hand in the entertainment industry, you want to come here.”

Jackson’s had a day job in health care, though, for the past couple years. His godbrother’s family had been providing care in group homes around Charlotte for about 20 years, but they recently decided to open a branch in Macon.

“I decided to help them with that, and that way it would give me a skillset and allow me to be financially stable,” Jackson says.

He worked in Intensive Family Intervention Services, which he said acted as a “middle point” for a child who had been in the juvenile detention system. They helped connect kids with advocates, teachers, community leaders and therapists—and it was free to families that had insurance.

But then the coronavirus pandemic hit.

“We’re paid for by the government, and once there’s no kids, there’s no money,” he says. “We can do Zoom meetings and stuff like that, but that stopped and eventually it left us with no clients.”

He was furloughed from his position. COVID-19, and statewide shutdowns in an attempt to mitigate the spread of the infectious and potentially deadly disease, also put a strain on any possible career moves in the entertainment industry.

Months later, Jackson needed help paying his rent. He had been dipping into his savings, and those funds were starting to get low. He needed help. He found help on a message board for his apartment complex in East Point, he says.

Jackson knew that this would be his best opportunity to get the help he needed.

He showed up with papers tucked into the pockets of an Army green jacket, all of which had been detailed online for him to bring to make the process easy for him, he says.

“I live in a great facility,” Jackson says. “I had been checking out the message board, and I made sure all my bases were covered. I got a fast response, and it was quick and fast and [event coordinators] let me know all the documents I needed.”

Thankfully, Jackson was able to use his phone to look up the website he saw on his community’s message board, review the necessary requirements and then find out all of the documents he needed.

But this can be a barrier for many people, says Tosin Ogunnoiki, marketing specialist for the Atlanta Volunteer Lawyers Foundation.

I feel like the main barrier is the technology barrier,” Tosin says. “The biggest issue is technology and being able to spread the word about assistance.”

Each situation and reason people need assistance is different, and Tosin says he tries to be

patient and reassuring with each client.

The discussion with clients can often get emotional and tense, he says. That’s understandable.

“I try to be sensitive to [each situation],” he says. “I’ve definitely seen a couple of people come in with eviction notices here, and I think everybody that comes in is scared—a lot of people out there are scared they will lose their home.”

Pamela Hayes—no relation to Jackson— had that same fear. She lives in a South Atlanta neighborhood where she was born and raised. She had gotten a job in the restaurant industry to support her family and small children toward the end of 2019, but after only a few months on the job she heard rumblings of the possible shutdown if the pandemic were to make its way to Georgia.

It “didn’t close down at first,” she said, but her hours were cut back drastically. As the situation became even more dire, the restaurant shut down for good.

“They said it was a temporary thing, and it just lingered on,” Pamela says. “When I lost my job, I applied for unemployment. I applied for that in May, and I was already struggling by then. I didn’t get unemployment until last month [October].

“I had to wait that long, trying and struggling to pay bills. I had called and called the unemployment office for almost 30 days straight.

“It was so much on me at one time.”

But someone directed Pamela to the event hosted by United Way that weekend.

“It was so easy, and they were all so nice to me,” she says.

Both Jackson and Pamela said the process to apply—while seemingly daunting at first—was quick and easy, and they were thankful for the team of workers who assisted them to make sure they were able to get the help they needed.

“I didn’t want to let myself be drowning and set myself all the way back,” Jackson says. “I’m looking for another job right now, but that takes time. This is enough to get me the boost I needed.”

To check your eligibility for assistance through the Atlanta Emergency Housing Assistance Program, click here.

Helping families and individuals attain financial security is foundational for our community to thrive. We know that every person whose life we change, will go on to change the lives of countless others. And when we work together—pooling our resources, time and energy—our community impact grows exponentially. United, we can do more for our community.

When we Unite for More, everyone can climb. Work this important is never over or done alone. Can children, families and Greater Atlanta communities count on you? Unite for more today.