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Georgia renters and housing activists rallied outside the Buckhead home of the Department of Community Affairs (DCA) commissioner on Saturday to call foul on what they consider a dysfunctional emergency rental assistance (ERA) program.
For months, the Neighborhood Assistance Corporation of America (NACA) has decried the DCA’s handling of the hundreds of millions of rental aid dollars from the U.S. Treasury Department intended to help Georgians avoid eviction. The DCA has disbursed only about 12% of the Treasury funds it received a year ago.
NACA leaders assembled several dozen concerned renters and activists to protest outside agency commissioner Christopher Nunn’s home, because, they said, the DCA has stonewalled them on numerous meeting requests to discuss how to improve the ERA program.
Nunn wasn’t home, said NACA CEO Bruce Marks, but the protestors left a message via the commissioner’s security cameras. “He knows we know where he lives, so he can’t continue to hide from accountability,” Marks told Atlanta Civic Circle.
Some of the renters said they had been awaiting aid money—or even a response from the DCA on their ERA application status—for months.
“I came because I wanted to know the answer to why I didn’t receive funding for the application I put in in September of last year,” Camillya Edwards said from outside Nunn’s home, according to a video viewed by Atlanta Civic Circle. “I feel like I’ve been ignored. Everybody feels like they’ve been ignored, even though we know the money is there.”
Krystal Brandford, a state employee who’s been waiting on an ERA check since applying for aid in March, said she risked professional retribution by demonstrating outside Nunn’s house. “I had to think, ‘Should I not go, because of my job, or should I go to help myself?’” she said in another video from the event. “Because, regardless of my position, I still have a family to take care of.”
Marks said NACA’s efforts have put needed pressure on the DCA, which he has said is running “one of the worst [ERA programs] in the country.”
“I don’t think they would have reallocated $80 million were it not for our activism,” he said Sunday, referring to the DCA’s plan to yield some of its unspent ERA money to high-performing county agencies in metro Atlanta. Earlier this month, the Treasury Department approved ERA funds transfers to Fulton, DeKalb, and other counties.
DCA representatives could not immediately be reached. Atlanta Civic Circle will update the story with any responses.
Just trying to email or call them is difficult. I’m trying to recertify but now my landlord is just mad and frustrated and just said this is ridiculous and filed an eviction. We’ve been in this house for 6 years and I have a toddler and we have no where to go. This is getting scary. I don’t understand what the problem is.
After I put landlord filed a complaint bc done of us have literally been in the portal since April 2021 with no word at all, when she questioned why over half her tenants still weren’t being helped after 17 months, two days later they literally denied all of her awaiting tenants and to date they still haven’t sent and denial paperwork, emails, it even a reason why. She was told to email GaERASupport@dca.ga.gov on behalf of her tenants so they would reopen their applications, but after 111 emails, messages, and calls to DCA, there had been no reply, no answers, no nothing. Not to mention the one payment they did send to my landlord, was in fact stunt to the wrong bank account and the refuse to respond or correct it. Now my landlord is on the hook for taxes on money she never received. She even contacted the US Treasury and the OIG.
After I our landlord filed a complaint bc over half of us have literally been in the portal since April 2021 with no word at all. When she questioned why over half her tenants still weren’t being helped after 17 months, the singing reply she got was two days later she checked her portal and literally watched as they literally denied all of her awaiting tenants right then and to date they still haven’t sent any denial paperwork, emails, or even a reason why. She was told to email GaERASupport@dca.ga.gov on behalf of her tenants to file an appeal, so they would reopen everyone’s applications. However after 111 emails, 94 messages, and over 300 calls to DCA, there has been no reply, no answers, no nothing. Not to mention the one payment they did send to my landlord, was in fact sent to the wrong bank account and they refuse to respond or correct it. Now my landlord is on the hook for taxes on money she never received. She even contacted the US Treasury and the OIG. The fingers should’ve been sent in May 20, she is still fighting to get on contact and have someone/anyone fix it.
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