After federal dollars dwindle, the demand for needed rental assistance isn’t going away

Christina Thomas says it was a heartbreaking process to have to go through an eviction with her grandchildren.

“I couldn’t go to sleep, I couldn’t go to sleep at all,” said Thomas.

She told Channel 2′s Ashli Lincoln she was evicted after her application stalled through the Georgia Rental Assistance program, under the Georgia Department of Community Affairs.

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“No one ever responded,” she said.

Mirlande Dina Michel-Wiggins says she’s been helping countless families avoid homelessness, through her nonprofit Tell the World Ministries.

Since the State’s rental assistance program stopped taking new applications, Wiggins says she’s seen a growing increase in families becoming homeless, after eviction.

“People are having nowhere to go,” Wiggins said.

Clayton County announced they’re temporarily halting taking new applications, because of an overwhelming demand.

Last month, Congressman Hank Johnson called for more transparency, at the Georgia Department of Community Affairs over the abrupt halting of applications.

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The state received 989 million dollars from the department of treasury. The state and other local programs say because of the overwhelming demand. They don’t want to run out of money for applicants who’ve already been processed.

“It is a crisis, I don’t know how else to say it, it is a crisis,” Wiggins said.

Tonya Curry, former Deputy Commissioner of Housing for the Georgia Department of Community Affairs, says halting applicants was to ensure that money didn’t run out.

“It would be irresponsible of us to continue to take applications that we didn’t have funding for,” said Curry.

State of Georgia rental assistance distribution by the numbers:

  • Total number of applications: 186,110

  • Total number of tenants/landlords paid out: More than 56,000 tenants and 8,800 landlords

  • Total amount of financial assistance distributed: To date, the GRA program has collectively deployed an estimated $1 billion to provide rental, utility and other housing-related assistance for Georgians in need.

  • Average Monthly Distribution Amount: $50 million

  • Total number of denied applications: Approximately 60%

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