CONGRESSMAN BISHOP HOSTS VIRTUAL TOWN HALL TO HIGHLIGHT EMERGENCY RENTAL ASSISTANCE PROGRAM
Sep 14, 2021
WASHINGTON, DC – Yesterday evening, Congressman Sanford D. Bishop, Jr. (GA-02) hosted a virtual town hall meeting to help raise awareness about the Emergency Rental Assistance Program which is made possible by federal funds in response to the COVID-19 pandemic and administered through the Georgia Department of Community Affairs. Representatives from the Department of Community Affairs (DCA) as well as the Georgia Apartment Association and the Urban League of Greater Columbus participated as panelists. Following a discussion about the program and how tenants as well as landlords could benefit from it, the panelists answered questions from the audience.
“While an eviction moratorium helped protect folks from being forced out onto the streets in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic, this was only part of the solution to the problem. Congress provided emergency rental assistance — most recently as part of the American Rescue Plan in March — to help landlords and tenants cover lost rent and help keep people in their homes,” said Congressman Bishop. “It is crucial that residents of middle and southwest Georgia know that these funds are available to them, how to access them, and to whom they can go for assistance. Having peace of mind about the roof over your head helps make it easier to stay healthy, get back to work, and economically recover from this pandemic.”
During the event, Daphne Walker, Division Director for DCA’s Housing Assistance Division, provided an overview of how the program was set up in Georgia and noted that the program does not cap the amount of funds it can provide, but that it is limited to 18 months of funding.
“And so, what this allows for the average citizen is the opportunity for you to have your rental arrears paid from the time of March 2020 to the present, if you have been unable to do so as a result of the pandemic. We also have partnered with Georgia Power and other utilities to make sure that not only is that rental assistance paid, but that your utilities are paid as well,” said Walker.
Speaking about the evening’s event, Tracey R. Mosley, Urban League of Greater Columbus Interim President & CEO said, “It is vital that our community is well informed about the emergency rental assistance program made possible by funds that Congressman Bishop and the Federal Government have made available to Georgia.”
“Emergency Rental Assistance is critical to residents and property owners across Georgia, and I am thankful that Congressman Sanford Bishop hosted last night’s webinar to assist those in need apply for and obtain financial assistance,” said Stephen Davis, Georgia Apartment Association Director of Government Affairs. “Georgia Apartment Association members are working closely with the Department of Community Affairs to get as much rental assistance as possible out to their residents that have experienced a pandemic related hardship.”
This past December, Congressman Bishop helped craft and pass the 2020 consolidated appropriations act, part of which provided funds for the Emergency Rental Assistance Program. That bill provided an initial $25 billion for the program for this year. In March 2021, the Congressman fought for passage of the American Rescue Plan which allocated an additional $21.55 billion to the Emergency Rental Assistance Program. These funds were then distributed to the U.S. states and territories, including Georgia, where state agencies are responsible for administering the program at the local level.
The State of Georgia received $552 million in federal funds to provide relief to individuals, families, and landlords whose finances have been negatively impacted due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The new program provides eligible applicants with up to 12 months of rent payment relief. Landlords that elect to participate in the program will have funds deposited directly into their bank account.
The Emergency Rental Assistance Program in Georgia is overseen by the Department of Community Affairs. Applications and more about the program can be viewed on the DCA’s website for the program, https://georgiarentalassistance.ga.gov/.