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Guest column: Rent and utilities assistance available
Guest columnist

By Georgia Department of Community Affairs.

The coronavirus pandemic presented an unprecedented, widespread impact on Georgia households. The average renter in Georgia owes $3,352* in rental arrearages. The U.S. Treasury Department has allocated $25 billion to states and local governments through the Federal Emergency Rental Assistance Plan. These funds provide relief to landlords and tenants who are behind on rental and utility payments due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The state of Georgia received $989 million (ERA1 and ERA2) from the U.S. Treasury’s Federal Emergency Rental Assistance program. The Georgia Department of Community Affairs (DCA) administers the funds through the Georgia Rental Assistance Program (GRA). To date, GRA has supported more than 6,900 tenants and landlords in bringing rent and utility payments current, distributing $43.3 million of the allocated federal funds.

“We know many Georgians are still facing rental and utility arrearages due to the pandemic and we want to help these individuals, families, and landlords,” said Tonya Cureton Curry, DCA Deputy Commissioner of Housing. “Regardless of your financial situation prior to the pandemic, GRA eligibility is based on your current situation.

We want to help keep Georgians in their homes and we encourage those behind on rent and utility payments to apply today at GeorgiaRentalAssistance. or by calling 833-827-RENT.”

Regardless of zip code, tenants and landlords who have fallen behind on rent or utility payments due to or during the pandemic can apply for up to 18 months of rental and utility assistance through GRA to bring past-due payments current.

GRA has disbursed more than $650,000 in rental and utility assistance to tenants and landlords in Liberty County. These funds are allowing renters to become whole on rent and utility payments and remained housed.

The Georgia Rental Assistance program is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to help tenants and landlords across the state,” added Curry. “Rental and utility assistance remains available, and we encourage those in need to visit the online portal and apply immediately.”

Across the state, DCA has partnered with the Georgia Legal Services Program, which can provide free legal representation for tenants who are facing eviction as well as navigators to assist with the application process statewide.

Additionally, the GRA Outreach Office is working with state magistrate courts to ensure that judges know that rental assistance is available and to encourage them to inform tenants/landlords about the assistance when they appear in the courtroom. The Salvation Army is also available statewide to assist tenants and landlords with the application process.

To determine eligibility and apply for rental and utility assistance, you can visit the online portal at

Applications are also available by calling or texting 833-827-RENT.

*Surgo Ventures data from CNBC article: https://www.cnbc. com/2021/08/06/us-renters-are-behind- on-3700-in-rent-on-averageand- often-more-.html

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