Fulton County officials announced during a Wednesday press conference that tenants in need of emergency assistance money can now request as much as they need, lifting restrictions that had capped the maximum total payment at $9,000. 

Fulton County Chairman Robb Pitts also revealed that renters now could seek emergency rental and utility assistance funds for up to 18 months, up from the previously imposed six-month limit. 

“The past year and a half has been hard on everyone,” Pitts said, “but it has been especially difficult for those with the extra burden of falling behind on their rental and mortgage payments.”

The move throws a lifeline to Fulton residents who might have already claimed the maximum allotted amount of government assistance, as well as people who haven’t yet sought public help but are racking up rent debt.

Fulton’s Deputy Chief Operating Officer Pamela Roshell said during the press conference, “If a constituent owes $15,000 in back rent — which is a real situation here in Fulton County — we are now able to cover that entire back rent.”

To date, Fulton has distributed more than $13 million, paying landlords and utility companies on behalf of renters in need. County leaders announced at the beginning of August that the government had secured another $24 million in federal emergency rental assistance money, adding to the $18 million it received in March. 

The county’s rental assistance program has so far helped keep more than 2,000 tenants at home, according to Roshell. Officials have made 650 payments from the fund since the application window reopened on Aug. 2, and they are now working to sift through another 6,000 requests for housing aid, she added. 

About a fifth of the people appealing for rental assistance money, however, are ineligible due to their location — Atlanta residents, for instance, can’t request county money, since the city runs its own program — financial standing or other reasons. 

Eligible renters must earn 80 percent of the area median income or less and be able to show they’ve suffered financial or housing hardships due to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Officials could not say Wednesday whether the expansion of the rental assistance program would be able to provide help for all of the eligible applicants who need it, although Roshell said “we will help every single family that we can.”

Click here to apply for assistance from Fulton County or here to see what other programs are available across the state, and check out the Atlanta Regional Commission’s page to read up on various eviction prevention tools in the metro area.

Have you or people you know sought rental assistance funds from Fulton County or any other metro Atlanta government program? Tell us about your experience by emailing sean@atlantaciviccircle.org

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