Sandy Springs Mayor Rusty Paul is calling for rental property management companies in the city to find ways to keep tenants who are struggling with finances during the pandemic in their homes.

“We are seeing record numbers of individuals and families in need of financial assistance to keep the lights on and food on the table.  We have neighbors in need,” Paul said in the message, which was sent to rental property management firms. He suggested eliminating late fees for rents.

Sandy Springs Mayor Rusty Paul.

In the message, which was also circulated on social media and to the press, Paul said COVID-19’s effects extend beyond the physical and emotional health and into an adverse economic impact. The business closures and job cuts hit city residents in lower economic tiers to create hardship he said no one could have predicted.

“It is a vicious cycle for those struggling to earn a weekly paycheck, feed their families, pay rent, and have penalties on top of the consequences imposed by COVID,” Paul said.

City spokesperson Sharon Kraun said city staff is making sure all multifamily residential properties receive a copy of the message.

Community Assistance Center, a Sandy Springs-based nonprofit that helps people at risk of homelessness, has been working on rental assistance programs and recently received $100,000 in federal money through a city-obtained federal grant. Earlier in the pandemic, the city gave $25,000 of its own funds to the CAC, but on the condition it not be used for rent subsidies. Buckhead Christian Ministry, another nonprofit that offers rent support, has said it faces skyrocketing demand as well.

Most eviction hearings, including in Fulton County, are effectively on hold until at least later this summer due to pandemic shutdowns of the courts. A moratorium on evictions from some federally subsidized housing programs continues through July 25. Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms recently ordered the extension through Aug. 31 of a moratorium on evictions and filings for tenants in city-subsidized housing.

–John Ruch contributed

Bob Pepalis covers Sandy Springs for Rough Draft Atlanta and Reporter Newspapers.