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  • Writer's pictureJ.P. Irie

4 takeaways from a recent Senate hearing on negligent landlords in Georgia

U.S. Senator Jon Ossoff listened this week as tenants and housing attorneys described unsanitary and even dangerous conditions in the places where they lived

 


Photo by J.P. Irie

Visiting Roswell on Monday, U.S. Senator Jon Ossoff listened as a series of metro Atlanta tenants and housing attorneys described unsanitary and even dangerous conditions in the places where they lived. Ossoff, who chairs the Senate’s Human Rights Subcommittee, was collecting testimony on what he described as the “mistreatment of Georgia families and children by landlords”—who, rather than make needed repairs to their units, sometimes retaliate against the tenants who request them. Cost of Living Fellow J.P. Irie also attended the meeting. Below, he shares quotes that stood out most to him. 

 

“How are we allowed to live like this?”

Witnesses shared stories about uninhabitable conditions, with crumbling floors and rats. Miracle Fletcher recounted raw sewage repeatedly flooding her apartment for months. Plumbing became so backed up that when her daughter took a shower, feces came out of the drain and covered her feet. “How? How are we allowed to live like this?” she asked. DeAnna Hines said she lived in a dilapidated unit with unstable floors and a collapsing ceiling, describing two occasions when falling pieces narrowly missed hitting her children.


“There is no guarantee that anything will be done to remedy the situation”

Hines’s apartment, Ossoff noted, passed inspections by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development in 2021 and 2023. “When HUD or the [Georgia] Department of Community Affairs inspect, they either are missing the worst issues in occupied units or they simply take the landlord’s word for it that issues have been repaired,” said Esther Graff-Radford, a tenants’ rights attorney who spoke at the hearing. According to Ayanna Jones, senior litigation counsel at the Atlanta Volunteer Lawyers Foundation, “Even when [HUD’s] compliance line is contacted, there is no guarantee that anything will be done to remedy the situation.”


“Throughout all our efforts, we still felt unheard”

It’s against the law for landlords to retaliate against tenants who request repairs or unionize, but Ossoff noted that tenants at HUD-subsidized properties across Georgia have reported threats of eviction and even arrest after filing complaints. Graff-Radford said oftentimes landlords will make up reasons to evict tenants who speak out, and Fletcher said a landlord retaliated against her when she organized a tenants’ rights group. “Throughout all our efforts, we still felt unheard,” she said.


“Humans must have shelter”

Children with unstable living conditions, whose families move often, underperform in school; some families even face trauma from unsanitary and unsafe environments. “Humans must have shelter,” Jones said. “Without a stable home, we have small chance of having stable and supportive neighborhoods and families.”


 


1 comentário


M Edmond
M Edmond
12 de mar.

Great article insight into the substandard living conditions often provided by offshore landlords with no connection to community or country that they do business. Research landlord follow the money.

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