Community leaders announce Georgia Rental Assistance program

Superintendent Cheryl Watson-Harris

Stone Mountain, GA – Superintendent Cheryl Watson-Harris and Board Chair Vickie Turner joined community leaders in announcing the Georgia Rental Application Assistance Program that assists low-income residents in securing funding for residents who are behind on rent payments and utilities as of March 13, 2020, a press release said.

Locally, the program is organized by the NCNW members and led by Derrica D. Williams, President of the DeKalb Section of NCNW.

The Georgia Rental Assistance Program is a statewide program that can provide up to 18 months of rental and utility assistance, paid directly to participating landlords and service providers on behalf of tenants.

Superintendent Watson-Harris noted the role a stable home environment plays in a student’s educational success and applauded the collaborative work being done to ensure local families are being assisted in getting the financial assistance they need.

“This is exactly what community looks like,” she said. “We know in education that we cannot do this work alone. It takes a village, and as you can see in DeKalb County, our village is very, very strong.”

In DeKalb County School District (DCSD), nearly 72-percent of students qualify for free and reduced lunch, and more than 17-percent of students are designated as homeless, which is defined as individuals who lack a fixed, regular, and adequate nighttime residence. In July 2021, the US Census Bureau reported that approximately 15.8-percent of DeKalb County residents live in poverty.

DCSD is providing computer labs at multiple high and middle schools across the school system for the Rental Assistance Program. The labs will be utilized for this program after regular school hours and on weekends to minimize disruptions to normal operations.

The first Rental Assistance Program in DeKalb County is scheduled for this Saturday, April 2, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Mary McLeod Bethune Middle School, located at 5200 Covington Highway in Decatur. More dates and times will be announced as they are booked.

“I am honored that we have come into a collaboration of community partners to share in the needs of our children and our families,” said Board Chair Turner.

Community leaders also present and speaking at today’s briefing included Debra DeBerry, Clerk of Superior Court, DeKalb County Sheriff Melody M. Maddox, and Adrian Bell from the Georgia Department of Community Affairs. The community briefing was held in the Boardroom at the DeKalb County School District office.

The application assistance program will continue for the remainder of the year, contingent upon the availability of federal funds. Those who do not need in-person assistance can start the screening process on the Georgia Department of Community Affairs website at: www.georgiarentalassistance.ga.gov

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