ATLANTA – October 4, 2021 – United Way of Greater Atlanta and the City of Atlanta announced today that the Emergency Housing Assistance Program will re-open October 4th to distribute an additional $12M in Department of Treasury funding received through the United States Treasury. The current Emergency Rental 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 and Curry Davis Consulting Group 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.

For more information, visit www.unitedwayatlanta.org.

About United Way of Greater Atlanta

United Way of Greater Atlanta, the largest United Way chapter in the nation, focuses on ensuring that every child in Greater Atlanta has the opportunity to reach his or her full potential. The organization invests in more than 200 programs in 13 counties through the Child Well-Being Impact Fund and works to help children succeed in school, improve financial stability of families, provide affordable and accessible healthcare and end homelessness. For more information, visit www.unitedwayatlanta.org.

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.

Belisa Urbina knew the well-being of her staff was her most important priority, but she had an important decision to make—she and her husband, Miguel, both.

The two founded the nonprofit Ser Familia in 2001 after moving from Puerto Rico to Georgia in 1999. In the nearly two decades since its inception, Ser Familia has become a leading program in Georgia that provides family services to the Latino communities of the Greater Atlanta region.

So, in March 2020 with the probable outbreak of the novel coronavirus on the horizon, Belisa says she reached out to her employees and board members for input.

“I remember that on a Sunday I sent a text to my board members and asked if they could meet with me via phone that afternoon,” Belisa says. “We went through every scenario—what if we closed the offices, we kept this one open, closed that one—we crunched the numbers and made plans from ABC up to Z.”

Belisa says Ser Familia ultimately made the decision to keep their offices open through the worst of the pandemic. She said it was important—too important—that the Latino community have a place to come “in the midst of a tremendous crisis,” and “be listened to and be supported.”

“We were blessed to be able to provide emergency assistance in the way we could do it,” she says. “We have provided the same services that we provided [before the pandemic], and on top of that, we are doing an emergency relief effort of really large proportions.”

Ser Familia aims to strengthen Latino families and equip Latino youth, couples, parents and families through programs that “teach improved life, leadership and communication skills,” and they offer social services to Latino families—for almost 20 years they have offered youth programs, case management, victim support services, mental health counseling, immigration legal relief efforts and other emergency services, Belisa says.

To this day, Belisa says Ser Familia has supplied more than $400K in emergency rental assistance.

And the demand has increased since the COVID-19 outbreak. Ser Familia was one of the most recent recipients of grant funds made possible through the Greater Atlanta COVID-19 Response and Recovery Fund, a joint effort from United Way of Greater Atlanta and the Community Foundation for Greater Atlanta.

On Aug. 11, United Way and Community Foundation announced the seventh round of grants for the COVID-19 response. Ser Familia received $150,000 to meet the increased demand for emergency financial assistance.

The seventh round of grants totaled roughly $1.13 million and targeted emergency financial assistance for housing-related costs. The grants went to 10 organizations in response to the region’s needs resulting from COVID-19.

The Latino community was one of the “first ones to be impacted,” Belisa says, after state and local officials made efforts to stem the spread of the coronavirus by shutting down small businesses, restaurants, gyms and schools.

As of Sept. 1, COVID-19, which is a respiratory illness with symptoms such as cough, fever and in severe cases, difficulty breathing, has infected more than 6 million nationwide and killed more than 183,000 people.

“The hospitality industry, construction, all of those where the Latino families work went out the door,” Belisa says. “From this point, there’s no recovery in sight.”

Belisa’s team did a survey around the second week of April to see just how great the impact in her community was. She said Ser Familia found that of the surveyed, about 65 percent had lost one or both sources of income in the home.

Ser Familia had pivoted to address the immediate needs of the community, Belisa says, which meant offering tutoring, addressing food insecurity, COVID-19 testing, etc.

She’s been thankful for her staff and their ability to step up during these times—often working long hours, weekends. With every challenge that COVID-19 brought, Belisa says her staff went “toe to toe with it.”

“Sometimes you think that you have the right people on [staff], but it’s times like these when you just know you have the right people,” Belisa says. “My staff has been here and have shown up every day, every time. They have gone beyond everything that I have imagined they would do. They have made every difference in the world.”

She was also extremely grateful for the grant funds provided by United Way and Community Foundation. Without this partnership and support, she says, “none of this would be possible.”

If you would like to help empower this work in communities across Greater Atlanta, donate to the Greater Atlanta COVID-19 Response and Recovery Fund.

If you or someone you know lives within the city limits of Atlanta and are in need of emergency rental assistance, visit relief.uwga.org to see if you might be eligible for funds that could cover past due rent, utilities and move-in deposits as a result of impending eviction.

ATLANTA – Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms announced the City of Atlanta has allocated $22 million from the Coronavirus Relief Fund (CRF) to the Atlanta COVID-19 Emergency Rental Assistance Program to provide housing support to Atlantans. Administered by United Way of Greater Atlanta, the program will provide rental, utility, and/or security deposit assistance to more than 6,700 City of Atlanta residents through a network of local service providers, who were selected through a Request for Proposal process.

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 at a maximum household limit of $3,000.

“Access to safe, affordable and livable housing is one of our Administration’s top priorities,” said Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms. “Beyond the pressing challenges of COVID-19, we aim to ensure that every resident who wants to live in Atlanta is able to do so with dignity. Thank you to United Way of Greater Atlanta for being a partner in providing housing stability to residents as we navigate this now normal.”

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.

United Way of Greater Atlanta, the largest United Way in the nation, focuses on ensuring that every child in Greater Atlanta has the opportunity to reach his or her full potential.

“As many as 16,000 households in the City of Atlanta make under $50,000 a year and are employed in occupations that are at high risk of layoffs from COVID,” says Milton J. Little, Jr., President, and CEO of United Way of Greater Atlanta. “Through our partnership with the City of Atlanta on the Atlanta COVID-19 Emergency Rental Assistance Program, we will be able to provide relief to families with children, lower-income earning households, and other vulnerable populations.”

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.
  • Text the keyword C19-ERA to 898-211 to be directed to the application page.
  • 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.