Tucker, NETWorks distribute American Rescue Plan funds for rent relief

Tucker City Hall. Photo by Dean Hesse.

Tucker, GA — Tucker City Council unanimously approved a contract with NETWorks Cooperative Ministries to distribute $1.2 million to Tucker residents in need of housing assistance due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The money is a portion of Tucker’s first tranche of American Rescue Plan (ARP) funds.

Tucker received the first tranche of ARP for $6.7 million in August. The city will receive the second portion in July 2022, and has until Dec. 31, 2024, to distribute the sum.

According to a memo, NETWorks distributed $780,000 CARES Act funds in 2020, but continue to see financial hardship in Tucker. In 2021, NETWorks has maintained an increased level of providing rent and utility assistance that is nearly five times their annual expense prior to the pandemic.

David Fisher, executive director of NETWorks, said after surveying regular clients, he learned that in nine apartment complexes, 500 residents owe $1.8 million in late rent. He said those numbers do not include 10 apartment complexes who did not respond, or unpaid mortgages and utilities.

“Anything will help the people who are facing eviction,” he said.

According to a Tucker memo, without assistance, families will face eviction and homelessness in the midst of a COVID surge. DeKalb County’s eviction moratorium is scheduled to end this month.

Eligibility for assistance is based on income, risk of housing instability and employment status. Funds may be used for rent, mortgage payments or utilities.

DeKalb County is allowing landlords to apply on behalf of tenants, with their knowledge and approval. Giving the land owner or building owner access to assistance is crucial because “both parties are hurting. People who are renting and people who own are out their rental fees,” Fisher said.

Mayor Frank Auman said City Council members wanted to be ready to help, not talk about it for months while people suffered.

“Our obligation with this money is to the citizens of Tucker, so we start there. We want to make sure it goes to people who have actually experienced the difficulty brought on by pandemic that these funds were intended for,” said Auman.

Tucker will use the remaining installment of the ARP funds, approximately $5.6 million, on infrastructure and greenspace.

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