HJL Eviction Defense Work 2019

Scroll down for more information on the campaign background, volunteer needs, and outreach strategy.

Donate to this work here!

Volunteer with the Campaign! Email housingjusticeleagueatl@gmail.com. We have many volunteer needs now and coming up. These include but aren’t limited to:

  • Join the Eviction Defense Voicemail Answering Team

  • Canvas in buildings with high eviction rates

  • Drop off manuals to community organizations and tenants requesting them

  • Help with the needs and logistics of information sessions (food, child care, etc.)

  • Join our Slack channel and keep up with conversations and needs that arise

Eviction Defense Campaign Background

We are nearing completion of our Eviction Defense Manual for tenants facing or at risk of eviction. There are currently close to 800 evictions filed every week in Fulton County. We started developing the manual with the understanding that the majority (53 percent) of tenants lose the opportunity to challenge their eviction in court because they do not file an answer. Many additional tenants file an answer without a proper legal defense or fail to show up to their court date. Any of these actions speed up the eviction process and lose tenants the opportunity to challenge their case.

In response to this, we have developed an Eviction Defense Manual with lawyers, tenant leaders, and other volunteers which breaks down the convoluted eviction process in simple, accessible language. It provides a roadmap on how to intervene in the eviction process to get a less harmful outcome.

Even though the eviction process is very tilted in the favor of landlords, understanding legal opportunities for intervention can buy tenants time and prevent or reduce debt. Sometimes it can stop an eviction altogether. The purpose of this project is to reduce the harm caused by lack of knowledge and legal representation.

In addition to reducing harm by giving tenants useful tools to fight eviction, the manual will also serve as an entry point for tenants into the organizing work of HJL. We see this work as necessary for building resiliency and leadership within communities that can move the housing justice movement in Atlanta forward and to win longer term solutions.

Outreach Plan

In our work we will target areas of Atlanta hardest hit by the eviction crisis to build capacity for renters to learn and teach each other skills to navigate the eviction process. We are currently developing our outreach strategy, including mass mailings to inform tenants of this resource, canvassing at buildings with high eviction rates, and facilitating eviction defense information sessions on how to use the manual. We are in the process of establishing a voice messaging line and response team so that tenants can call to request manuals and/or set up information sessions with HJL tenant leaders.

First Steps:

  • Identify key community organizations (community centers, schools, churches, community development corporations, etc) that can host workshops, and hold manuals for distribution.

  • Identify key apartment complexes with very high eviction rates to distribute invitation mail outs for workshops, as well as canvassing to assess interest in a workshop.

  • Conduct postering throughout key high traffic areas of the community, both outdoor (bus stops, underpasses, walls along commercial districts) and indoor public spaces (community centers, schools, churches, community development corporations, etc).

  • Conduct a targeted mail out of folded poster to above apartment complexes. This mail out will contain contact information for tenants to request an eviction manual workshop.

Second Steps:

  • Identify and relationship build with community organizations and spaces that are geographically central to the target neighborhood to conduct workshops within.

  • Assess mail out and hotline efficacy for tenant outreach.

  • If necessary, carry out canvassing in key apartment complexes to possibly distribute manual copies or recruit tenants for workshops.

Third Steps:

  • Conduct workshops.

  • Build a follow up and/or feedback mechanism.

  • Assess Steps 1 through 3, as well as workshop outcomes for modification.

  • Work with lead community organizations to build their capacity to conduct future workshops without facilitation (but maybe consultation) by Housing Justice League.

4 Neighborhoods of focus: There are clusters of neighborhoods with very high eviction rates (as well as high poverty rates, and high rates of renters) according to 2016 AJC data. We have identified the following four as neighborhoods of focus:

  1. West Downtown (Vine City; Washington Park; English Ave)

  2. West Side (Florida Heights; Chalet Woods; Harland Terrace; Westhaven; Ivan Hill)

  3. South West

  4. South East