Georgia rental assistance applications taking too long, some tenants say

Georgia tenants are frustrated with the statewide rental assistance program.
Georgia tenants are frustrated with the statewide rental assistance program.
Credit Damian Dovarganes / AP Photo

Some tenants are voicing frustration with Georgia’s statewide rental assistance program, saying the application process is too burdensome and long.

Among them is Dorothy White, who lives in subsidized housing in Stone Mountain. She said she fell behind on rent partly because her bus service stopped during the pandemic and she had to pay more for transportation.

White is hoping to get a new place now. She said she was approved for a Section 8 voucher to help. But she still owes her current place around $800.

“I can’t move until I get my rent caught up,” White said. “So I’ve been waiting and waiting.”

She submitted a rental assistance application more than a month ago, she said. She hasn’t heard anything back.

White and a group called Assist and Resist delivered a letter to the governor’s office, requesting it expedite applications and be more flexible with the documents it requires of tenants and landlords.

The Department of Community Affairs, which runs the program, said turnaround time for applications is around a month now. As far as documents go, the program said it is just following the federal requirements for the funding.

DCA has distributed $34 million dollars, or less than 7%, of the $550 million in federal funding it received as part of Congress’s first rental assistance effort. The U.S. Treasury Department requires any program that has spent less than 30% of its funding to submit an improvement plan by mid-November or face losing money.

The statewide program originally only served more rural areas. Then, in August, it opened applications to all of Georgia. The most populous cities and counties, including Fulton, DeKalb and Atlanta, received millions of their own federal rental assistance funding.