Nearly 400k Georgians could face eviction as protections run out, experts say

Nearly 400,000 Georgians could face eviction as protections run out

ATLANTA — Thousands of Georgia families are scrambling to find a way to stay in their homes as most eviction protections expire at the end of this month.

Local experts are afraid it could get a lot worse.

Channel 2′s Matt Johnson spoke to John Gainey, an attorney with Atlanta Legal Aid. He’s representing a growing number of people fighting eviction letters.

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The federal CARES Act offered eviction protection for many renters across the country.

“I think Georgia and states across the country are going to see a huge uptick in the amount of evictions,” Gainey said.

“Now that the deadlines are back in place, evictions will start moving forward,” Gainey said.

The last of the protections expired last week despite an executive order from President Trump that addressed evictions.

“That executive order does not stop evictions,” Gainey said. “It encourages federal agencies to look at the ways where they could maybe do better with evictions and minimize them, but it does not provide any protection in itself.”

Courts are starting to get to the more than 10,000 eviction cases filed since mid-march in Fulton, Cobb and DeKalb Counties alone.

Johnson spoke to a woman who wished to remain anonymous after she says she fell behind two months on her rent and is facing eviction.

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“The whole situation has been stressful, scary, and overwhelming,” she said. “My grandmother is 94 years old, so I take care of her, and it’s like trying to make sure she has a roof over her head.”

Across Georgia, global consulting firm Stout Risuss Ross estimated 45% of renters could face eviction. The company used census data to predict up to 381,000 Georgians could be evicted over the next four months.

Ellie Thaxton works with a grassroots organization called the Clarkston Area Economic Relief Fund that helps families facing evictions.

“I think it’s going to be the most vulnerable that are going to be impacted and that’s going to be single mothers, children, people of color,” Thaxton said. “Single black mothers are the most common evictions that we normally see.”

Thaxton said she worries about how a potential surge in evictions will affect children who may lose their spots in schools.

“I just think that we can’t underestimate how much this is going to disrupt the communities that are going to be impacted by it,” Thaxton said.

She said anyone close to being evicted has options and people who can help.

“A lot of people have tried reaching out to organizations they haven’t heard back, so just don’t stop,” Thaxton said. “There are a lot of different organizations that are out there that can help.”

Attorneys continue to work for clients ahead of an eviction crisis that could quickly spin out of control.

“These folks who are without their jobs and without their stable income, you know, are facing homelessness,” Gainey said.

Attorney said there is a concern that people may ignore eviction letters because renters may think they are protected. You have to give your answer within seven days of getting the letter.

Who is protected from evictions right now?