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State expands rental assistance program

Georgia renters who have fallen behind on rent payments due to the COVID-19 pandemic may qualify for rental and utility assistance through the Georgia Rental Assistance Program.

The GRA Program is now statewide and has also expanded its eligibility.

Georgia initially received $552 million from the U.S. Treasury’s Federal Emergency Rental Assistance Program and an additional $437 million to provide relief to individuals, families and landlords whose finances have been negatively impacted by COVID-19.

The funds will be used to bring past due rent and utility payments up to date and for up to 18 months.

Based on guidance from the U.S. Treasury, counties or cities with a population of over 200,000 received separate funds to set up their rental assistance programs. Georgia’s Rental Assistance Program did not administer funds to those local jurisdictions, and applicants could only apply in those local municipalities, according to the DCA.

Now that the federal eviction moratorium has expired, DCA is broadening access to the GRA fund to provide tenants and landlords with the option of applying for state funding despite living in one of the state’s more populated areas.

Renters must meet a set of criteria to qualify for aid. To be eligible, a tenant must have qualified for unemployment or experienced a financial hardship due to COVID-19; demonstrated a risk of experiencing homelessness or housing instability; have a household income at or below 80% of the area median income, with priority given to households below 50% of the AMI; and receive a monthly federal subsidy.

To submit a rental assistance application, visit GeorgiaRentalAssistance.ga.gov. Questions regarding an application may be emailed to rentalassistance@dca.ga.gov.

Faith & Blue

A community prayer luncheon was held Monday in the Kiwanis of Griffin Center as part of the National Faith & Blue Weekend. The lunch was sponsored by New Mercy Baptist Church, Rising Star Missionary Baptist Church, Union Baptist Church, and the Spalding County Sheriff’s Office.

Vigil to honor domestic violence victims

Griffin Judicial Circuit District Attorney Marie Broder will be a featured speaker at a candlelight vigil to be held in observance of Domestic Violence Awareness Month.

The lives of those lost to domestic violence in the past year will be honored during this year’s vigil, which is scheduled for 6 p.m. Oct. 21 at the Fayette County Justice Center. The justice center is at 1 Center Drive, Fayetteville.

Along with Broder’s speech, the event will feature the story of a domestic violence survivor.

The free event is open to the public and children are welcome to attend. Light refreshments will also be served.

The vigil is presented by the Griffin Judicial Circuit Domestic Violence Task Force and Promise Place, which provides comprehensive domestic violence services in Fayette, Spalding, Pike and Upson Counties.

Promise Place’s services include a 24-hour crisis hotline (770-460-1604), emergency shelter, support groups, legal advocacy, teen dating violence prevention, and children’s programs.

For more information, call Promise Place at 770-461-3839.

Atkinson Elementary School Principal Tiffany Campbell, second from right, thanks members of the Fairmont High School Class of 1968 for their donation of 2,600 face masks to the school. “As former students of the Fairmont community, we saw a need and decided to support the school in its efforts to combat the COVID virus,” Fairmont alumna Annie Bing said.

Fairmont alumni donate masks to Atkinson Elementary