ATLANTA, MAY 1, 2020 – Open Doors, an Atlanta-based nonprofit focused on securing housing for those exiting homelessness, has launched RentBridge, a new program that ensures housing continuity for people placed by the organization into affordable apartments and are now struggling to pay rent due to the COVID-19 economic crisis. In the last two years, Open Doors connected 800 households, totaling more than 2,300 people, to professionally managed apartments. If national averages for this income demographic hold, approximately 30 percent – representing nearly 250 households – may have been unable to pay April or May rent due to loss of income resulting from the economic crisis caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. RentBridge will help shield these families from homelessness, giving them the opportunity to safely get back to work and school when those routines return.
“Quite simply, you cannot shelter at home if you do not have a home,” said Matt Hurd, director at Open Doors. “Many of the families Open Doors assists with placement are vulnerable right now because they work hourly shifts and therefore may be experiencing a reduction of hours or furlough. We do not want to see them falling back into homelessness, so we have created a fund to serve as a safety net during this time of crisis.”
Open Doors will work with its real estate partners as well as case managers in its nonprofit partner network to identify those who qualify for the RentBridge program. Once a family has been identified as being at risk, they will be invited to complete an application. Open Doors will then disburse payments directly to the property managers.
The population served by Open Doors is uniquely vulnerable to the COVID-19 crisis due to limited financial reserves and employment that is largely service based and therefore cannot be completed from home. Even though many cities within Metro Atlanta have temporarily suspended dispossessory hearings and evictions, many families who live paycheck to paycheck will have difficulty catching up on their rent payments if they fall into arrears. This program will provide a safety net to maintain the stability of their housing through the economic shutdown.
Hurd estimates the monthly need to be approximately $235,000 and that funding secured to date through grants will cover the need for April and May. Open Doors is actively fundraising to extend the program through this period of economic crisis. The City of Atlanta and the Atlanta Apartment Association – which recently endorsed Open Doors – are also working with the organization to identify apartment communities willing to house individuals and families temporarily sheltered in hotels during the health crisis.
“Although we typically work with private funding, we are seeking public support for this urgent need,” continued Hurd. “Donations can be made by visiting our website at https://opendoorsatl.org/donate. We are hopeful that with Giving Tuesday on May 5, the Atlanta community’s generosity will help us secure enough funding to provide stability for our families through the summer.”
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