Sade Braden has six kids, works two jobs and is about to be evicted from her metro Atlanta apartment. The 33-year-old mother caught COVID-19 in July, forcing her to miss months of work as an emergency-room accountant at Emory University Hospital. She’s one of thousands of Georgians who have staked their housing on $710 million that the federal government has given the Peach State to help people pay rent during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

But Georgia’s state government, responsible for distributing most of the federal aid, is one of the slowest in the nation at doing so. 

Nearly five months later, Braden still hasn’t heard from either the state, city or county officials whom she reached out to for help with her application – leaving her in a bind for how to keep a roof over her kids’ heads while she works 12 hours a day to catch up on missed rent.

“It’s not fair to the people that actually need the help,” said Braden, who lives in DeKalb County and whose children range from ages 5 to 15. “I’m from Georgia and I’ve always kept a roof over my head. But right now, we just need help.”

Georgia is on the clock to dole out $552 million the federal government has given the state’s Department of Community Affairs (DCA) to help thousands of struggling residents pay their rent. DCA officials had paid out just $57 million of that to applicants between April and mid-December this year – rounding out to a 10% clearance rate more than 8 months into the program. Many applicants have waited two to three months or more to receive their approved payments. At the same time, DCA has spent about $11 million on administrative costs to run the program, equaling around 16% of the total amount spent so far from DCA’s share of rent-assistance funds.

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