Adrion Bell with the Georgia Rental Assistance Program on Radio

Director of Marketing and Communications with the Georgia Department of Community Affairs, Adrion Bell joins the Atlanta Real Estate Forum Radio podcast to discuss the Georgia Rental Assistance Program. Bell joins hosts Carol Morgan and Todd Schnick for the All About Real Estate segment.

The Georgia Department of Community Affairs is a state agency that manages over 79 programs. From the Georgia Dream Program to the Housing Choice Voucher Program, the department offers housing assistance for renters and buyers, as well as historical preservation.

Due to the pandemic complications and skyrocketing unemployment rates, the U.S. Treasury released $25 billion for rental assistance across the nation. The state of Georgia received $989 million with strict guidelines from the Treasury on how to administer relief. Candidates must meet certain rental qualifications to ensure funds are directed to those behind on rent or facing eviction.

Bell said, “The program is designed to keep people in their homes…and [assist] people who have been hit by the COVID crisis.”

With varying rental rates, how long the funds will last is unpredictable, but Bell doubts program funds will run out any time soon. The process judges an applicant’s income at the time of application, unemployment and income reductions. The department has also offered retroactive rental assistance as far back as 18 months to keep people in their homes.

Landlords can also apply and must show there is an arrearage from one of the tenants as well as get the tenant to turn in an application. If both parties participate, the landlord receives the payment directly. Recently, a program division director spoke with one of metro Atlanta’s larger apartment associations to target landlords and encourage them to share the program with tenants.

“It eases the burden on both the landlord and tenant,” Bell shared. “On a massive level, [the landlord] stands to lose more.”

The Georgia Department of Community Affairs also offers legal services, working with local magistrates and court justices to represent applicants facing eviction in court.

With such a large influx of applications over the last year, the department hired 200 processors to ensure all files and documentation are in order. If there is an issue, the processors contact applicants by phone to correct any information.

Bell said, “[With] all documentation complete, we usually get payments out within 30 to 60 days.”

The program also offers a recertification process if a tenant has received aid previously but is still facing unemployment or eviction. The department will pay a few months in advance if requirements are met to offer a cushion.

Marketing for the compensation began in March 2020, using 12% of the budget for hiring, administration and marketing. To date, the department has spent $2 million in marketing efforts, including radio and television ads, paid social media, billboards, email blasts and more. To combat the widespread belief the program was fraudulent, the necessary marketing efforts allowed the department to spread the word about the assistance and ensure potential applicants of its legitimacy.

In addition to the $989 million provided by the U.S. Treasury, counties with more than 200,000 residents receive exclusive funding for the district. For the first allocation of $552 million, the department advertised and assisted exclusively in the metro area. The second allotment of $437 million overlaps with county funding per federal guidelines, allowing the department to assist statewide. Another $3 million has been approved through next June to increase outreach outside of Atlanta.

To learn more about the Georgia Rental Assistance Program, call 833-827-RENT or visit

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Georgia Residential Mortgage Licensee, License #22564. NMLS ID #6606. Subject to borrower and property qualifications. Not all applicants will qualify. The Georgia Department of Community Affairs and New American Funding are not associated. Click here to view the terms and conditions of products mentioned during the show. Corporate office 14511 Myford Rd., Suite 100, Tustin, CA 92780. Phone: (800) 450-2010. (November/2021)

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