by Richard Stephens II, District Family Engagement Liaison, Parent & Family Wrap Around Services

With some of our DeKalb County School District families, economic hardships presented a pressing issue before the COVID-19 pandemic. However, with business closures and job losses that disproportionately affect poor residents, many of these families now find themselves in a state of increased anxiety as they have become dependent on unemployment benefits and stimulus payments. There is also anxiety among resource agencies who fear that many of these families will fall into homelessness due to the increasing need for housing assistance and decreased availability of resources.

St. Vincent de Paul Georgia, which provides comprehensive services to people living in poverty, has seen a 26% increase this year in families looking for housing assistance. There has been a 500% increase in the number of calls that Legal Aid has received related to unemployment. CaringWorks, a DeKalb County-based nonprofit that offers housing assistance and resident advocacy, stated that 45% of the people they assist have been furloughed or had their hours reduced.

Much of the anxiety over pending homelessness stems from the thousands of evictions that have been temporarily paused but set to resume at the end of the month. In mid-March, a statewide judicial emergency went into effect, halting eviction proceedings. The judicial emergency is set to expire in mid-July. The recent CARES Act has also delayed many evictions by prohibiting federally backed and subsidized properties from pursuing nonpayment evictions until July 25.

Also, there is a growing concern for persons living with friends, in hotels, or somewhere else without a formal lease. Despite the temporary judicial orders to stop evictions, these persons can be displaced without being formally evicted. Legal Aid has been pushing for residents of extended stay hotels to be granted tenants’ rights, which would give them formal eviction protection. Atlanta Legal Aid has stated that they fear there’s going to be a significant backlog of evictions.

But all is not lost. Through a concerted effort of support throughout Metropolitan Atlanta, many local organizations have increased their prevention efforts. For instance, Partners for HOME, a nonprofit serving the city of Atlanta, invested $650,000 into programs that offer immediate turn-around assistance to families experiencing homelessness. And several other organizations have stepped up their usual rent relief programs. The city of Clarkston allocated $100,000 to pay rent for its residents who are face eviction.

The DCSD Department of Parent and Family Engagement is focused on offering our parents the support, resources, and services they need during this difficult time. Through our C.A.R.E. (Chronic Homelessness, Access to Healthcare, Rehabilitation, and Economic Literacy) initiative, we have developed a network of agencies dedicated to supporting our parents, custodial guardians, and families beyond just coordinated entry. The C.A.R.E. initiative provides DCSD parents with ongoing support, regular check-ins, resources, and education tools even after the initial needs have been met.

If you find yourself in a circumstance where your housing situation has become unstable, and you need assistance with rent, back payments, pending evictions, or temporary housing, please complete our C.A.R.E. initiative entry form. You can also contact one of our network agencies directly through the resources tab on our website.

For consultation on seeking assistance:

For information regarding this article, please contact Richard Stephens II, District Family Engagement Liaison, Parent & Family Wrap Around Services.