Fulton County has processed more than 80% of requests for emergency rental assistance (ERA) since the beginning of August, in stark contrast to the pace at which the Georgia Department of Community Affairs (DCA) has dealt with its own ERA applications.
Between Aug. 2 and Dec. 12, Fulton adjudicated 10,287 of the 12,771 applications submitted by households in need, granting aid to 41.6% of them. Roughly 2,500 applications are still under review, county officials told Atlanta Civic Circle.
By contrast, as of mid-December, the DCA, which administers the statewide ERA program, had processed just over 16,000—about 32.7%—of its applications for federal rental aid money since the beginning of the year, leaving about 33,000 applicants still awaiting word on their requests and jeopardizing the housing stability of many renters.
Of the more than 10,000 ERA applications Fulton County received, 4,283, or 41.6%, resulted in payments to households seeking help with rent and utility bills. The other 58.4% were declined because the applicant did not live in the eligible area, didn’t submit required documents, or was over the income limit.
The DCA has come under fire for declining nearly as many ERA applications as it accepted—green-lighting payments for 54% of applicants and turning the other 46% down. It’s important to note, however, that, as of August, the state agency’s assistance is available to renters and landlords all over Georgia, so it doesn’t turn any down based on location.
Fulton’s ERA program, on the other hand, is only able to provide money to people who reside in the county—but not in the City of Atlanta, which runs its own ERA operation. Many of its applicants were rejected because they don’t live there, according to a county representative.
Fulton has dispatched the entire $18 million it received from the U.S. Treasury Department in the first round of rental assistance funding (ERA1), and it has started disbursing the $25 million it received in ERA2 cash.
Because Fulton and other local governments have so efficiently disbursed its ERA1 money, while the DCA has been so slow to disburse its own $552 million allocation—getting just 14% of ERA1 funds to households by November, per Treasury Department data—the state plans to reallocate some of its funds to metro Atlanta governments.
DCA officials announced on Dec. 7 that they intend to share more $80 million of their ERA1 cash with metro Atlanta governments. If the Treasury Department approves the plan, Fulton would receive an additional $25 million.
A Treasury Department spokesperson told Atlanta Civic Circle last week that the DCA could receive a response to its voluntary reallocation proposal in early 2022.