Out of the hundreds (thousands) of organizations seeking your donations today, I can think of none that deserve your money more than those working on housing insecurity in Atlanta.
Last January, the City of Atlanta documented a 31 percent increase in the number of unsheltered people on its streets since the same time the previous winter — and that was before the pandemic hit. Now, housing advocates fear more than 10,000 more people are at risk of losing their homes in just Cobb, DeKalb, and Fulton Counties alone.
Here are five Atlanta-area nonprofits that are working to help people experiencing homelessness or at risk of becoming homeless. I have donated to or volunteered with them during the 25+ years I have been living here and can say that each will put the money to good use.
Central Outreach and Advocacy Center – The OAC helps people experiencing homelessness with referrals to shelter and other assistance. They also provide on-side medical and dental visits and an employment readiness program. One of their most important services is helping clients obtain official copies of government documents like birth certificates and Social Security cards, which are often essential when applying for housing, employment or accessing Medicaid or Medicare benefits.
St. Vincent de Paul Georgia – SVdP maintains an assistance hotline that Georgians can call to access help with rent, food, transportation and other needs. Volunteers arrange home visits with people seeking help so that they can discuss their needs privately and not face the burden of traveling to another location.
Georgia Advancting Communities Together – Georgia ACT is a network of local community development organizations across the state working to address the lack of affordable housing in Georgia. A recent study found that almost a fifth of metro Atlanta homeowners – and just under half of Atlanta renters – pay more than 30 percent of their income toward housing.
Housing Justice League – HJL helps tenants advocate with their landlords for better living conditions, form tenant associations, fight evictions, and oppose gentrification in vulnerable neighborhoods.
Atlanta Legal Aid – Atlanta Legal Aid provides civil legal assistance to low-income Georgians. They help tenants fight evictions, oppose illegal lease terms, and pursue landlords for unsafe living conditions among other remedies.
Although we hope to see more emergency pandemic assistance from the federal government, the economic impact to Georgians will be far-reaching and may take years to recover from. I think it is important to support these organizations now and in the future to help our communities survive.