Georgia’s 2022 legislative session was a reminder that it often takes a multi-year advocacy strategy to create change—particularly when it comes to affordable housing.
With the session coming to a close, we celebrate long-fought wins and gear up for continued advocacy on critical issues that impact affordability across metro-Atlanta.
We are proud that a key policy priority for the year was also a major win for protecting Georgia’s children against harmful lead exposure. After years of collaborative advocacy and extensive testimony to a House study committee, Georgia will update state law to match federal guidelines that define elevated blood lead levels in children and heighten the standard that triggers intervention to reduce lead hazards.
Thanks to the passing of House Bill 1355, children under 6 will be protected from lead exposure found in the interior and exterior of rental homes, schools and daycare centers, among other places common to young children. This measure called for an additional $1.8 million in funding to the Georgia Department of Health to implement changes. Governor Kemp signed this bill into law, and it will go into effect on July 1, 2022.
Improving protections for tenants in Georgia continues to be a priority for Enterprise and our partners across the state. Georgia is one of only 10 states without a written notice requirement prior to filing an eviction. House Bill 408 would require a 7-day written notice to tenants prior to an eviction, during which tenants would be allowed to pay overdue rent without the additional costs to both property owners and tenants that are connected to court filing costs and legal fees. The bill would also address the consequences of an eviction filing on a tenant’s record, which can reduce or nearly eliminate quality housing opportunities in the future—even if the tenant pays the rent owed within that 7-day window.
We have pushed this bill in prior legislative sessions and despite receiving sponsorship from respected legislators, we have yet to see it pass. Each year we see the coalition of advocates grow stronger around this issue. We look forward to learning from other measures that take time to build momentum and continue learning how we can make the case for these protections during the next session.
Over the coming months, we are preparing to challenge harmful bills that have gained traction during this past session, despite not passing. We opposed two bills from the last session that seek to criminalize the homeless community when encamped outside of certain locations and reduce state funding to local governments that do not enforce this law. House Bill 713 and Senate Bill 535 would create structured camping facilities with criminal penalties for those camped outside of those locations. Advocates for the unhoused community call these proposals untested, expensive and potentially detrimental to efforts to create permanent housing solutions for unhoused people. We will support our partners by providing strategies and testimony on evidence-based solutions.
We will also be working with local governments in support of their powers to regulate the permitting process for corporate-owned single-family rentals. House Bill 1093 and Senate Bill 494 both sought to limit local regulation of these properties and have been challenged by the Georgia Municipal Association and other local leaders. Corporate-owned single-family rental properties have been on the rise in metro-Atlanta and have been connected to rising housing costs and the exclusion of Black and minority families from the home ownership market. For context, corporate ownership accounts for 23% of single-family housing in the United States, but a massive 43% of single-family housing in metro-Atlanta.
In June, the Atlanta Regional Housing Forum will feature panelists and experts discussing the economic impact of these trends. We will continue to support solutions that champion local ownership in all communities. Register for the forum