A household's belongings are strewn across the yard after an eviction. (Credit: Kelly Jordan)

Yet another metro Atlanta government has launched a program to help people financially affected by the coronavirus pandemic get housing help. 

On Thursday, Cobb County opened the online application page for its $22.8 million rental assistance program, which is supported by federal COVID-19 relief dollars. 

This program adds to the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act funding the county’s board of commissioners approved in 2020, according to the government’s website

To qualify, applicants must also be eligible for unemployment benefits or “experienced a reduction in household income, incurred significant costs or experienced a financial hardship due to COVID-19,” per county materials. 

Applicants must also be able to show that, without the assistance, they would be at risk of homelessness or housing instability, and that they have a household income at or below 80 percent of the area median income (AMI). (The median income in Cobb County was about $78,000 in 2019, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.)

Cobb officials have not yet responded to an inquiry regarding how much money each individual or household can receive, and this story will be updated as a link is provided. Once secured, though, the funds can be used to pay rent — including past-due rent — utility bills and other housing costs.

The program will be administered by HomeFree-USA, Star-C, MUST Ministries, the Center for Family Resources and Sweetwater Mission, groups that also helped the county handle CARES assistance.

The news of the program comes on the heels of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s announcement that the federal eviction moratorium would again be extended, this time until the end of June

According to Cobb County’s Chief Magistrate Judge Brendan Murphy, the local court has roughly 2,000 eviction cases pending. That’s far fewer than the roughly 11,000 landlord-tenant cases sitting in limbo in neighboring — and larger — Fulton County, where Atlanta is located.

Cobb’s program rollout also follows Fulton’s, which allows non-Atlantans to apply for up to $1,500 a month for help with rent and other housing-related expenses. 

Additionally, the City of Atlanta told Atlanta Civic Circle that its online application portal for emergency rental assistance would reopen this month. Officials have not yet announced when exactly that might happen.

(Header image, via Kelly Jordan: A household’s belongings are strewn across the yard after an eviction.)