Identification and Profiling of Fulton County’s Top Evictions Filers

by Vincent Micah Bray, Samuel Ellis, Tan Nyman, Anh-Ton Tran

November, 2021

Background and Motivation

Atlanta has been one of the U.S. cities hardest hit by the eviction crisis since the COVID-19 pandemic. To mitigate the risk of disease transmission imposed by housing instability amidst the concurrent financial and housing affordability crises, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) issued a temporary, national moratorium on evictions, effective September 4, 2020 (Temporary Halt in Residential Evictions To Prevent the Further Spread of COVID-19, 2020). As of August 26, 2021, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled against and struck down the federal eviction moratorium. Real estate interests in Alabama and Georgia sued to enjoin this eviction ban; the majority conservative court struck down the CDC’s moratorium, saying that the order was too broad to stand without explicit congressional backing.

With the ending of the moratorium, many low-income renters find themselves in precarious financial situations with no protections from eviction (What Should You Do After The Supreme Court Struck Down The CDC’s Second Eviction Moratorium?, n.d.). The moratorium, however, did not stop mass evictions against this group throughout the pandemic. A hearing before the House of Representatives Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis in July of this year highlighted the practice of mass evictions by corporate landlords despite the moratorium, with tens of thousands of evictions filed in courts across the country (Oversight of Pandemic Evictions: Assessing Abuses by Corporate Landlords and Federal Efforts to Keep Americans in Their Homes, 2021).

To understand why evictions continued throughout the pandemic, the eviction crisis must be examined from multiple perspectives. Ontological insecurity from housing instability poses significant financial and health risks to renters (Marcuse, n.d.). Constantly living under the threat of eviction can lead to depression and anxiety. For many renters, the threat of eviction, coupled with employment instability during the pandemic, posed significant and chronic stressors. In addition, having one eviction filed against a resident in pre-pandemic times results in a record that follows the resident from one property to the next. This record makes it challenging to find new housing after being evicted or forcing residents to stay in place due to a lack of other options (Raymond et al., n.d.). Despite the distribution of relief funds from the federal government, many renters did not receive them in time to evade eviction. Some faced landlords who would not accept their relief funds, choosing to evict “problematic tenants” instead to avoid conditions associated with the funds(Parker, 2021).

Community-based non-profit organizations working to prevent evictions during the pandemic have had similar difficulties with fighting evictions. The Housing Justice League (HJL), a grassroots community organization that fights for housing as a human right, has identified a significant lack of awareness or understanding of the eviction moratorium during the period it was in place. They discovered this through their Tenant Power Hotline, a community outreach tool that connects the organization to tenants facing eviction or landlord harassment. While the moratorium was a much-needed tactic to tackle the eviction crisis, it is clear that such policy measures must be combined with bottom-up efforts to address these large systemic issues.

To better understand the eviction crisis and the pandemic’s effects on it, the Atlanta Federal Reserve Bank (FED), Atlanta Regional Commission (ARC), and housing scholars at Georgia Tech (GT) and the Center for Spatial Planning Analytics and Visualization (CSPAV) have worked together to collect public court eviction data. Over the past year, the FED, ARC, and CSPAV have created scrapers and ad-hoc processes to access housing data across the Atlanta metro counties and collate it into a legible database and dashboard. This public data is beginning to be used by policymakers to inform their decision-making. There is also a desire to make this data accessible to other housing organizations, such as The Housing Justice League (HJL), who fight eviction by providing support and resources to tenants for organizing.

This paper will describe our brief engagement with bridging the grassroots bottom-up efforts to the institutional initiatives at addressing this eviction crisis through data. Namely, we will be making court data collected by ARC, CSPAV, and the FED legible and usable to HJL. To do so, we hone in on a specific use case, organizing against corporate landlords. Our goal is to compile information about the corporate landlords who are the worst offenders in terms of eviction filing in the Atlanta area. The idea behind such actions is that the more information we can provide to activist organizations such as the Housing Justice League, the more targeted they can be at holding these corporations accountable. It is often difficult to contact or even find the corporation that owns a property, given the intentionally opaque ownership chains. Providing relevant information of parent corporations, their agents, and their associated properties provides a starting place for an organization like HJL to allocate resources and efforts to fight evictions.

Company Landlords and LLCs

While not a monolithic threat to all renters, many companies or corporate landlords pose a significant risk to renters in various ways. Of particular concern are limited liability companies, or LLCs, which limit individual investor liability for conditions associated with their investments. Properties owned and operated by LLCs are often neglected for maintenance, especially in lower-income neighborhoods (Graziani et al., 2020; Travis, 2019). LLCs also tend to be difficult to track across jurisdictions due to variation in data availability and structure, making it difficult to understand how much property they own and how much impact a single LLC has in housing quality across the country. Graziani further notes that LLC-renter relationships demonstrate a significant imbalance in power dynamics due to the massive financial and legal resources an LLC possesses.

The recent uptick in purely speculative home-buying driven primarily by private-equity investors adds to the challenges low-income renters face.  These corporate landlords are notorious for using techniques for extracting as much value from tenants as possible, such as cutting back on maintenance and amenities typically taken for granted.  While some corporate landlords increase rents, the potentially more pressing concern is the exacerbation of the imbalance of power between landowner and renter represented by corporate landlords.  Investment firms in possession of many properties will typically put each under the control of a separate LLC.  This management practice makes the chain of ownership intentionally complicated in a way that makes it difficult for tenants to hold landowners accountable for bad behavior (Ferrer, 2021).

When tenants fall behind on rent, the profit-maximizing ethos of corporate landlords makes eviction just another method of realizing a return on their investment.  A 2016 study found that, in the Atlanta area, corporate landlords are 8% more likely than small landlords to evict their tenants (Raymond et al., n.d.). Another 2019 study centered around Atlanta found that corporate landlords are also more likely to use the threat of eviction than small landlords (Immergluck et al., 2020). Corporate landlords have also been found to disproportionately target lower-income and minority renters (Arnold, 2021). In many cases, these eviction practices proceeded illegally while the moratorium was still in effect. Now that the moratorium is no more, the existing eviction crisis will only intensify.

Eviction Data Background

            The effort by ARC, FED, and CSPAV/GT is not the first effort at compiling and analyzing eviction data. The most well-known work has been conducted by Matthew Desmond and his team of researchers. This research has taken a top-down analysis by aggregating eviction filing data across the U.S. The findings these efforts reveal are illuminating. For instance, Porton et. al conducted an analysis of 3.6 million court records from 12 different states and found that about 22% of these records contain ambiguous data (Porton et al., 2021). Adjusting for these ambiguities creates a different picture of evictions in a given area. What this shows is that the court data that is gathered through institutional efforts is limited in what it can or cannot describe.

One point of ambiguity that Porton et. al describe are the differences in data management practices from state to state. This ambiguity is reflected in court data in the Atlanta Metro Area in terms of how court events and judgements are categorized. This ambiguity also materializes in the various record management portals that the five major metro counties use, which differ county to county. Another point of ambiguity is the practice of serial evictions. These are practices where landlords file multiple evictions to extract more financial capital from the tenant (Garboden & Rosen, 2019). Serial filings would inflate the eviction rate gleaned from the court data. Immergluck builds on this work by analyzing serial filings in Atlanta (Immergluck et al., 2020), thus underlining the issue of data legibility and value when it moves from institutions to grassroots organizations. What is it that different groups are interested in? Clearly, displacement and eviction rates don’t have high resolution due to the messiness of court data. To activist organizations like HJL though, understanding general harassment is more valuable. Thus serial evictions may not be something to be adjusted for. Second, for data to be used by groups like HJL, it must first be legible in a format that these groups can read. Sharing raw data in the form of data files like JSON or .CSVs highlight issues of access when sharing data. This motivates us to prevent this data in a readable format that is already organized in a way that is understandable. Hence, we produced dossiers with relevant information that are compiled in a text document.

While the work that Demond’s lab is valuable, there have been critiques from other housing scholars, activists, and geographers. Aielo et. al point to the means of data collection, the lack of local nuance, and the partial political analysis done with court record data that Desmond’s work has modeled (Aiello et al., 2018). It’s important then to consider the values and mission of organizations like Housing Justice League. An important tension that arises between the value of data amongst grassroots organizations versus institutions and academics is the burden of proof required for actionability. Activists are not beholden to issues of reputational risk or practices of objectivity. Critical data scholar Sheila Jasanoff describes this as data from somewhere, whereas attempts at objectivity could be characterized as data from nowhere (Jasanoff, 2017). HJL operates from a particular political orientation, and thus the heuristics they apply to data to glean insights and take actions are situated, and different from how the FED or ARC must use the data. We see this in work like the Anti-Eviction Mapping Project who use data to organize direct actions (Maharawal & McElroy, 2018). Thus, while our analysis of top evictors is thorough, to some actors it could be deemed incomplete. However, for a grassroots organization, this level of information is still actionable.

Evictions Data Analysis

Eviction data were collected from the Fulton County Superior Court eServices Portal using web scraping techniques. Raw data were converted to .xlsx format and read into R using the openxlsx package (Schauberger & Walker, 2020). To protect the identities of individual defendants, each defendant was assigned a unique ID before their names were scrubbed from the data frame. Court proceedings records were subsequently processed using dplyr from the tidyverse collection of packages (Wickham et al., 2019).

Eviction data were grouped and summarized by Case ID and plaintiff name to identify the plaintiffs with the highest count of evictions cases associated with them in 2020. The four plaintiffs with the highest number of evictions associated with them are summarized in Table 1. Of these, Bridge Property Management appeared in the most evictions cases, with 599 unique instances. Of these four corporate plaintiffs, only one, Blue Magma Residential LLC, was associated with a single rental property; the top three plaintiffs were identified across multiple properties in Fulton County.

Table 1. Top Eviction-Filing Plaintiffs in Fulton County, GA – 2020.

Plaintiff Evictions Filed
Bridge Property Management 599
The Life Properties LLC 438
Embarcadero Apartments 404
Blue Magma Residential LLC 215


The plaintiffs in Table 1 did not appear in the court records under a single plaintiff name; rather, the plaintiffs in question were identified by noticing their corporate names appear in several unique plaintiff names (e.g. 3200 Lakeview Place, College Park, LLC, The Life Properties LLC and 2909 Campbellton Rd SW, Atlanta LLC, The Life Properties LLC). To identify the true number of evictions associated with each corporate entity, corporate names were searched using pattern matching in the dplyr package.


After identifying the corporate landlords with the highest eviction counts in 2020, dossiers on each corporation were compiled to help brief community groups like the Housing Justice League on crucial information about each plaintiff. Each dossier contains data compiled across multiple sources, including the Georgia Secretary of State Corporations Division Business Search portal and the Fulton County Board of Assessors Property Search portal (Fulton County Board of Assessors, 2021; Georgia Corporations Division Business Search, 2015). Additional information was obtained by searching for records associated with the agent registered with the corporate landlord in the Business Search portal; investigating any other businesses associated with the corporation and its officers; and looking through the Fulton County parcel database for other properties managed by the corporations that were not previously identified. The resulting dossiers can be found using the hyperlinks compiled in (Fulton County Board of Assessors, 2021; Georgia Corporations Division Business Search, 2015) below.

Table 2. Links to Corporate Landlord Dossiers.

Corporate Landlord Dossier
Bridge Property Management Access here
The Life Properties LLC Access here
Embarcadero Apartments Access here
Blue Magma Residential LLC Access here


Aiello, D., Bates, L., Graziani, T., Herring, C., Mahawaral, M., McElroy, E., Phan, P., & Purser, G. (2018, August 22). Eviction Lab Misses the Mark. Shelterforce.

Arnold, C. (2021, June 3). Corporate Landlord Evicts Black Renters At Far Higher Rates Than Whites, Report Finds. NPR.

Ferrer, A. (2021, June 21). The Real Problem With Corporate Landlords. The Atlantic.

Fulton County Board of Assessors. (2021).

Garboden, P. M., & Rosen, E. (2019). Serial Filing: How Landlords use the Threat of Eviction. City & Community, 18(2), 638–661.

Georgia Corporations Division Business Search. (2015).

Graziani, T., Montano, J., Roy, A., & Stephens, P. (2020). Who Profits from Crisis? Housing Grabs in Time of Recovery.

Immergluck, D., Ernsthausen, J., Earl, S., & Powell, A. (2020). Evictions, large owners, and serial filings: Findings from Atlanta. Housing Studies, 35(5), 903–924.

Jasanoff, S. (2017). Virtual, visible, and actionable: Data assemblages and the sightlines of justice. Big Data & Society, 4(2), 2053951717724477.

Maharawal, M. M., & McElroy, E. (2018). The Anti-Eviction Mapping Project: Counter Mapping and Oral History toward Bay Area Housing Justice. Annals of the American Association of Geographers, 108(2), 380–389.

Oversight of Pandemic Evictions: Assessing Abuses by Corporate Landlords and Federal Efforts to Keep Americans in Their Homes, US House of Representatives, 36 (2021) (testimony of Carolyn B Maloney & Eleanor Holmes Norton).

Marcuse, P. (n.d.). In Defense of Housing. 165.

Parker, W. (2021, March 19). Why Some Landlords Don’t Want Any of the $50 Billion in Rent Assistance. Wall Street Journal.

Porton, A., Gromis, A., & Desmond, M. (2021). Inaccuracies in Eviction Records: Implications for Renters and Researchers. Housing Policy Debate, 31(3–5), 377–394.

Raymond, E., Duckworth, R., Miller, B., Lucas, M., & Pokharel, S. (n.d.). Corporate Landlords, Institutional Investors, and Displacement: Eviction Rates in Single-Family Rentals. 04, 22.

Schauberger, P., & Walker, A. (2020). openxlsx: Read, Write and Edit xlsx Files.

Temporary Halt in Residential Evictions To Prevent the Further Spread of COVID-19. (2020, September 4). Federal Register.

Travis, A. (2019). The Organization of Neglect: Limited Liability Companies and Housing Disinvestment. American Sociological Review, 84(1), 142–170.

What Should You Do After The Supreme Court Struck Down The CDC’s Second Eviction Moratorium? (n.d.). JD Supra. Retrieved October 30, 2021, from

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GA Emergency Rental Assistance Programs: Policy Recommendations to Disperse Federal Funds Quickly and Efficiently to Prevent Evictions and Keep Georgians Stably Housed

by Freyja Brandel-Tanis, Adriana Colon Adorno, Bianca Mers & Grace Roth

October, 2021

Millions of Americans are on the verge of eviction due to hardships caused by the COVID-19  pandemic. Without the protections from the CDC evictions moratorium, many are looking to the Emergency Rental Assistance Program (ERAP) to provide payment on back-owed rent and utilities and keep them in their homes. However, despite nearly $50 billion in allocated resources, disbursement rates have varied wildly across the country. As of September 15, Georgia had distributed less than 5% of the more than $550 million received for rental assistance (Keenan, 2021). This means Georgia has the money to help
prevent evictions but isn’t using it.

ERAP is composed of two separate programs: ERA1, which was enacted on December 27, 2020, and provides up to $25 billion, and ERA2, enacted on March 11, 2021, and provides up to $21.55 billion. The procedures of ERA1 are generally considered more burdensome, having stricter requirements for proof of eligibility and more limitations on the amount and method of rental assistance disbursement. The US Department of the Treasury has continued to release statements and guidelines that encourage fewer restrictions to make these funds more immediately available (U.S. Department of the Treasury, 2021).


The Georgia Department of Community Affairs (DCA) is the state authority tasked with dispersing ERA funds for most of Georgia. The program began in early March 2021 and is currently accepting applications. DCA primarily relies on the more laborious criteria and processes laid out in ERA1. This includes limited tenant eligibility, payments only made directly to landlords or utility companies, support for a maximum of 12 months (some exceptions for up to 15 months), and lengthy lists of required documentation, notably for tenant applicants (Georgia Department of Community Affairs, n.d.). However, despite being the primary agent for ERAP funds, the procedures outlined by DCA are not universally followed across the state.

DCA is not the only authority in Georgia with the ability to disperse ERAP funds. Cities and counties with populations over 200,000 people, including the City of Atlanta, Fulton County, DeKalb County, and Chatham County (Savannah), have received their own ERAP allocations and can determine their own eligibility criteria and processes (Georgia Department of Community Affairs, n.d.). For example, Fulton County maintains the eligibility requirements from ERA1 but has expanded support to a maximum of 18
months, which is an addition from ERA2 (Fulton County, 2021). This indicates a precedent in Georgia for local municipalities to relax the requirements of ERA1 in favor of new guidelines under ERA2 to meet the needs of their constituents. DCA should modify their current eligibility and disbursement processes to disburse ERA funds more effectively to Georgians and mitigate the effects of the looming evictions crisis.

Policy Recommendations
Our vibrant, growing state has at least 400,000 people who need help and need it fast (NHLIC 2020). In order to help the most people as efficiently and as equitably as possible, policies need to get money into people’s pockets and emphasize flexibility, trust of users, and ease of accessibility.

Tier 1 – High Priority Policies
These policies afford renters the most flexibility and disperse money quickly and efficiently – preventing evictions and keeping Georgians in their homes.

  1. Self-attestation
    Unnecessarily complicated application processes for ERA present a significant barrier to accessibility and efficient distribution of funds to tenants. It is evident that simplifying the application process is feasible, as the process is already streamlined for landlords: landlords are required to submit a shorter application and less documentation to receive assistance funds (Georgia Department of Community Affairs, n.d.). Although the Georgia DCA allegedly allows self-attestation, in which tenants are trusted to honestly report their financial hardships without documentation, there is no mention of this procedure on the DCA website, thus making it inaccessible to tenants. In addition to formalizing this self-attestation process within its ERA procedure, DCA should also clearly and broadly communicate this route to tenants in need. States such as Washington and Wyoming provide great examples of simplified self-attestation processes in which tenants simply fill out an application with their basic information and a short narrative to explain their situation (Washington State Department of Commerce, n.d. and Wyoming Department of Family Services, n.d.).
  1. Direct-to-Tenant Cash Assistance
    If the goal of Georgia’s ERAP policies is to prevent evictions and keep people stably housed direct-to-tenant assistance is the best way to do that. Requiring renters to go through their landlords adds another time-consuming administrative obstacle. The requirement of ERA1 for programs to make 3 attempts to contact the landlord for participation and at least 1 attempt through mail resulted in processing delays of 10-14 days – two weeks that could make the difference between staying housed or being evicted, especially when the eviction process moves so quickly in Georgia (Foley 2021). Additionally, there are many costs associated with housing other than rent – utilities, various administrative fees, deposits, early lease termination for folks who need to leave due to sexual or domestic violence, and countless others. Direct-to-tenant assistance provides flexibility for people to make their own decisions about their personal needs. Direct-to-tenant assistance can also help the many people who rent under informal leases, a population which is predominantly lower income folks, people of color, and those with disabilities. Direct-to-tenant assistance has been successful in distributing ERA funds quickly and can allow nonprofit organizations to target those most at risk; for example, Chainbreaker Collective, a social and environmental justice organization, mobilized in Santa Fe New Mexico to quickly distribute $6 million in rental relief to families at risk of eviction (Ludwig 2021). Low-barrier access means more people get help, so we recommend that DCA and other Georgia agencies provide direct-to-tenant assistance outright to allow Georgia renters the flexibility and agency to meet their most urgent housing needs. While critics might argue that some might “take advantage” of the more flexible distribution, research consistently shows that people in poverty who receive aid without conditions spend it on things they need (see: the New Leaf Project, Kellogg Insight Report Here’s How Americans Are Spending Their Stimulus Checks, Stockton Economic Empowerment Demonstration).

Tier 2 – Secondary Priority Policies
If the high priority policies are not possible, the following policies allow for faster distribution with less administrative time and effort. Additionally, they encourage more people to participate – keeping more Georgians stably housed.

  1. Qualified by proxy
    Qualified Census Tracts (QCTs) are defined as census tracts where “50 percent of households with incomes below 60 percent of the Area Median Gross Income (AMGI) or have a poverty rate of 25 percent or more” (view portal here). Because of the characteristics of these areas, QCTs could be used to as a fact-specific proxy, which reduce the amount of required documentation for ERA-fund approval (U.S. Department of Treasury, 2021). A similar process has been done in the state of Virginia, which has a list of 500 pre-qualified zip codes.Applying this fact-specific proxy to Georgia, data from the API provided by Dr. Elora Raymond was analyzed to determine the efficacy of prequalifying tenants for ERA based on residence in (QCT). By comparing the number of evictions within and outside of QCTs, the goal is to provide justification for using pre-qualified census tracts to disperse ERA funds effectively. The counties of interest include the Metro Atlanta area (Clayton, DeKalb, Henry, Gwinnett, Fulton, and Cobb Counties) and Macon (Bibb County).

    Table 1: Evictions in qualified census tracts
    Table 1: Evictions in qualified census tracts

    In general, qualifying tenants based on QCTs is an effective way to target those areas with a higher rate of evictions. While the majority of evictions occur outside of QCTs, which only make up about a quarter of the census tracts and a quarter of the population. However, as shown in Table 1, QCTs contain over a third of the rental units and have almost double the number of median evictions per census tract. This suggests that these QCTs have a higher proportion of renters and are experiencing more evictions per census tract. Table 2 affirms these findings, showing that while 26.82% of census tracts are QCT, they account for 39.14% of the evictions, indicating that QCTs are experiencing higher rates of eviction than non-QCTs. As such, while pre-qualifying QCTs may not address the largest number of evictions, it will assist areas with a higher proportion of evictions.

  2. Categorical eligibility
    As demonstrated by strategies used in several other states, existing social programs can be used to automatically qualify tenants for rental assistance funds. Virginia and Texas, for example, allow people in need to demonstrate income eligibility by submitting a qualification letter from means-tested federal subsidy programs such as: Head Start, the Comprehensive Energy Assistance Program (CEAP), the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), Supplemental Security Income (SSI), the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) or Tribal TANF program, Veteran Affairs Disability Pension, Survivor Pension, Enhanced Survivor Benefits or Section 306 disability pension, and the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) program (Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs, 2021). This not only makes the distribution of ERAP funds more efficient but also saves tenants the burden of being repeatedly required to prove income. Better yet, DCA and Georgia municipal governments could directly exchange data with these federal programs to qualify tenants instead of requiring them to provide documents.3. Direct-to-Tenant Assistance Upon Landlord Refusal
    While ERA1 programs are permitted to provide direct-to-tenant payments when landlords or utility companies refuse to participate, ERA2 programs are mandated to provide direct-to-tenant assistance upon landlord refusal. The U.S. Treasury stated, “It is unacceptable to allow Americans to suffer eviction or homelessness simply because some landlords are turning down Federal aid on their behalf” (2021).While landlords have their own reasons for choosing not to participate, the consequences felt by renters are very real. Allegheny County noted that in their efforts to distribute 2020 CARES Rent Relief assistance, they had to turn away 10% of applications because landlords refused to participate, and many renters didn’t even apply because their landlords publicized their refusal to take part in the program. While ERA2 funds are now required to be available to renters even if their landlords won’t participate, the policy recommendation now is to make concerted efforts to publicize and spread this information. According to a NIHLC report, “Nearly three-quarters of programs still do not explicitly acknowledge the allowance of direct-to-tenant payments in their public-facing documents despite Treasury guidance encouraging, and in the case of ERA2 requiring, them to do so” (Foley 2021). Because the ERA guidance has changed from the first iteration to the second, it is vital that DCA and other agencies publicize this information and try to reach as many people as possible, especially those who know their landlords wouldn’t participate and might still think that this relief is unavailable to them.We recommend DCA update all applicable web pages with this information and engage in a campaign to mail flyers and/or make calls to targeted areas at high risk of eviction with the information that renters can receive assistance without needing landlord participation.


The COVID-19 pandemic and continuing housing crisis is one of the most important issues that Georgia faces. It is well documented that stable housing provides more opportunities for children, increases the health of families, and encourages community, while evictions and homelessness cause severe mental, physical, and financial stress on families. In order to literally save lives, DCA and other Georgia agencies must work to make ERA funds available and flexible to people in Georgia.


  1. Eviction statistics are from Clayton, DeKalb, Gwinnett, Fulton, Cobb, and Bibb Counties in Georgia with addresses present, latitude and longitude coordinates within county borders, and filing dates between December 26, 2018 and September 25, 2021.

Works Cited

Commonwealth of Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development. (n.d.). Fact Specific Proxy Zip Codes. Retrieved October 4, 2021, from

Foley, E. (2021, July 19). Direct-To-Tenant Payment Implementation: Increasing Flexibility and Equity in Emergency Rental Assistance Programs. National Low Income Housing Coalition.

Fulton County. (2021, August 25). COVID-19 Emergency Rental Assistance. Fulton County.

Georgia Department of Community Affairs. (n.d.). The State of Georgia Rental Assistance Program—Frequently Asked Questions. Retrieved October 4, 2021, from

Keenan, S. (2021, September 15). Could Congress help Georgia, metro Atlanta disburse rental assistance cash faster? Atlanta Civic Circle.

Ludwig, M. (2021, August 13). Renters Are Calling for Direct Cash Assistance as Evictions Loom. Truthout.

Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs. (2021). Texas Rent Relief. Texas Rent Relief.

U.S. Department of the Treasury. (2021). Emergency Rental Assistance Frequently Asked Questions – Revised August 25, 2021.

Washington State Department of Commerce. (n.d.). Treasury Rent Assistance Program (T-RAP). Retrieved October 4, 2021, from

Wyoming Department of Family Services. (n.d.) Emergency Rental Assistance Program (ERAP). Retrieved October 4, 2021, from

Evictions Mapping Tool for Housing Justice League Part II

by Noldy Belizaire, Phillip Carnell, and Colin Delargy

 November, 2020

Building off of our last blog post, we want to give an update on the eviction tracking tool that we have developed, discuss its potential importance, and identify potential conflicts and strategies related to its release.

PART I: The Tool itself

A beta version of this tool has been built.

  1. The tool allows users to see where, when and to what extent evictions are occurring across Atlanta, with interactive features to establish greater understanding across space, time and a variety of data.
  2. It necessitates both an interactive test drive and feedback round to ensure the design is intuitive, user friendly and useable for a variety of community organizations.
  3. Some features of the tool are not optimal at the current state, but these decisions were made in the interest of time and expediency (the current platform is not open source, data is not 100% accurate, and issues of data security still linger; these issues will be discussed below).

As discussed in the previous post, the tool has two main objectives. It should be used to facilitate:

  1. Immediate action, mobilizing, canvassing and tenant outreach for tenants and activists alike
  2. Comprehensive, macro-scale analysis of eviction information to assist in more structural change, writing policy proposals and submitting reports

Both of these objectives align with Housing Justice League’s current aims. For more information, please refer to our last blog post.

The tool can be accessed via the following link:!/vizhome/MockUp1_16051574488900/Dashboard1

Below are screenshots of the tool in its current form:

Figure 1: Users can filter by date range, ZIP code or Owner data
Figure 1: Users can filter by date range, ZIP code or Owner data
Figure 2: Clicking on a ZIP code will filter evictions data to that area
Figure 2: Clicking on a ZIP code will filter evictions data to that area


Figure 3: Alternately, users can use the addresses map to find the location, number and timeline of evictions at specific addresses
Figure 3: Alternately, users can use the addresses map to find the location, number and timeline of evictions at specific addresses
Figure 4: Clicking on an address will give information about evictions there. This example is filtered to evictions from August - October, 2020
Figure 4: Clicking on an address will give information about evictions there. This example is filtered to evictions from August – October, 2020


Figure 5: A timeline will show how evictions have developed for the clicked areas during the selected timeframe
Figure 5: A timeline will show how evictions have developed for the clicked areas during the selected timeframe

Interactive data analysis allows users to both see where and when evictions are most intense, with pop-up information available at each address containing evictions. Our goal was to make this as intuitive, quick and easy-to-use as possible, while still allowing for a multitude of functions depending on the particular needs of whoever is using the tool.

Part 2: The tool’s importance and conflicts with its use

The substance of this tool has the potential to provide powerful information to tenant activist groups and other organizations working towards more housing security in the city. Although formal evictions only represent a small portion of total evictions in Atlanta, being able to identify landlords and recognize structural patterns to evictions allows for more effective and supportive tenant organizing. It also introduces a new variable into the conversation surrounding evictions in the city; in addition to letting us ask “Who is being evicted, and where?”, we can start to ask ourselves “Who is evicting, and when?”

There are some examples of similar tools being used in the United States and elsewhere. NYC tracks this information and claims a robust data verifying process, but the tool is difficult to use effectively: There is a similar map in Milwaukee that tracks evictions and shows ownership information (including the names under which owners typically file evictions, which can differ from parent company names). Housing activists in cities like Berlin have expressed to us personally the potential value of a tool like this but do not have access to data necessary to create it (see, for example, Wem gehört Berlin?). Basel, Switzerland provides some publicly accessible landlord information, but does not link it with housing insecurity. It may be important to look at European counterparts as well as domestic ones because of the increasing globalization of corporate landlords over the past decade. We hope to build on existing tools first, by providing this information in Atlanta, and second, by co-designing the map with tenant organizing groups who can let us know what information, features and interface are most helpful for them.

Our goal in designing this tool was that it will appeal to a wide variety of users who will have their own particular uses for it. The chart below shows our workflow as well as a few proposed outputs for advocates. This list is gathered from input from our professor, Dr. Elora Raymond, from contacts that she has with housing justice advocates in the city and from our conversations with tenant organizing groups such as Housing Justice League. It is by no means exhaustive. In designing the tool, we wanted to make sure not to put ourselves in too tight of a box, design-wise. The scope of how this tool can or should be used is not pre-defined. Instead, we have tried to leave this tool intentionally open and interactive for a variety of users to see how it can be used to their benefit. Ideally, as people make use of the tool, new needs and obsolete features will be identified and either incorporated or abandoned. We see particular use for organizations or initiatives that have limited resources and want to target interventions to high-need areas.

Figure 6: Diagram of map functioning and possible uses
Figure 6: Diagram of map functioning and possible uses

There have been some challenges in determining where a tool like ours could be published or how it should be made available. Because of the presence of personal landlord data, many public institutions (ARC) and private companies (AJC) with a broader reach might not feel comfortable or might not be in a legal position to give their official support in the form of online hosting space or funding for this tool.

In addition, landlord data cannot be obtained as frequently and may be irregularly updated from public sources in comparison to eviction filings. The data obtained may also tell us little about the true ownership and management of the property, as many properties are owned by corporate and investment landlords under the guise of  limited-liability corporations (LLC’s) and managed by a third-party property manager. Furthermore, our joining process for linking landlords to evictions may have minor errors, so results need to be read with a caveat and further investigated. Each of these considerations inhibits our ability to further understand who is doing the evicting; therefore, the major value added of this tool is in allowing us to understand where and when. It can be seen as a first scanning of the evictions landscape, but all information should be double-checked. Opportunities to further investigate the ownership of evicting properties may seek to unveil who owns these landowning LLC’s, and furthermore, look into who is managing the properties for them.

One expressed concern that formal institutions have is that their involvement with such a tool would amount to interfering inappropriately in the private real-estate market. Without the guaranteed backing of institutions with adequate resources, questions surrounding hosting, maintaining, securing and promoting the tool need to be fleshed out in order to ensure the tool’s longevity, stability and usefulness. This may mean changing parts of the tool that would be useful in order to comply with a host organization’s concerns. We expect a little bit of compromise to be necessary moving forward. In the next section, we will open up some issues that have been on our minds.

PART 3 – Reflections & a proposed strategy

In addition to hosting, maintaining and promoting the evictions map, we must also keep in mind how data justice and security can be preserved, especially for people whose evictions are being mapped. We are dealing with sensitive personal information: where people live, the legal status of their housing and landlord information (not all of whom are evil). The last thing that someone facing housing insecurity needs is compromised data security as well. Typically, the way to ensure the safest data security is to not collect data in the first place. Still, we believe enough in the potentials of this tool that we would like to find some workable compromise. We have begun reaching out to activists around the country who deal with data privacy in activism work to get advice on how we should best deal with the delicate data we are collecting. A short list of resources, with links, we are trying to tap into include: Virginia Eubanks (author of Automating Justice), the Muckrock group, Lucy Parson Labs, working on policing in Chicago, the Library Freedom Project, the Detroit Community Technology Project as well as the activists and academic working on the Bay Area’s Anti-Eviction Mapping Project, mentioned in our last post. Data specialists at Georgia Tech and Emory are also helping to advise on this aspect of the project.

Hosting, storing, maintaining and advertising a tool might sound like back-end tedium, but this process matters for community organizing work. A tool like ours requires maintenance and up-to-date data in order to be relevant. When counties change how they publish data, new workarounds must be designed. Maintenance costs, money and time, and identifying organizations willing/able to take on this burden, especially in a time where many institutions are facing a monetary crunch due to the COVID-19 pandemic, is difficult. It is exactly this pandemic that has emphasized the urgency of this tool while potentially undercutting financial requirements for making it useable.

Likewise, we have had to deal with two competing issues: useability and security/longevity. We have found in our work that user-familiar and user-friendly interfaces are often provided by for-profit companies (ArcGIS, Tableau), while their open-source counterparts, although free, often community-driven and more sustainable, have a steep learning curve and require a lot of technical know-how in order to be used (Boeing, 2020). Our beta-version is made with Tableau, but we are looking into open-source alternatives that allow for the same ease of use. The institutional discomfort described above adds to the difficulty, as these supportive institutions are often the source of substantial technical know-how and informational resources to help design open-source programs. Ideally, if we want to create longevity with this tool, finding a sustainable, responsible organization to host and maintain the data and platform is non-trivial.

The if in the previous sentence should not be overlooked. Just because a tool exists does not mean it should automatically get thrown out into the world for all to use without restriction. On the one hand, a tool like the landlord tracker provides advocacy groups with a good chance to balance the scale between tenants and landlords with respect to access to data. Company (LLC) and corporate landlords with the means to gather and process this data independently have access to much broader informational resources than tenants typically do, giving them additional power over their tenants. The CDC moratorium, furthermore, puts a lot of the onus of information gathering on tenants, not landlords. By balancing these informational resources, we hope that this tool will allow tenants to organize their limited personnel and financial resources more effectively. Ideally, this tool gets used in this way.

On the other hand, mappers have a special responsibility to the people, places and things they are mapping. Being seen or mapped is not always good for vulnerable people or communities. Mapping tools can often be coopted by powerful actors who use them to their own ends, undermining the mappers’ or activists’ initial intent of the tool, often unexpectedly. An evictions map, for example, overlapped onto voting data, could be used to mobilize get-out-the-vote campaigns that provide much-needed political voice to neighborhoods with extensive housing insecurity, just as well as it could be used to aid in voter suppression by identifying addresses where a voter’s registration is in questionable status because their address has changed due to an eviction. Before we automatically release our tool into the world, we must think carefully about what unintended consequences it might have. The last thing we want to do is leave at-risk communities at an even greater disadvantage through this tool. At the same time, no release will be perfect, and some errors are tolerable. Balancing these two issues is important to us as we work with communities. This is why hosting, maintaining and unveiling the tool become just as important as the interface design and substance discussed in our last post and require collaborative input.

In the next few paragraphs, we want to discuss one possible strategy for unveiling this tool in line with our goals for supporting housing advocates in the city that we think might strike a good balance.

Given the concerns listed above, we must be flexible in our understanding of this tool. One way that we have tried to incorporate flexibility without compromising security is by asking ourselves when our strategies have done “enough.” Although there is a lot of data we could show, it might be better to slowly build up that data than to provide a tool that provides excessive information and runs the risk of being hard to use (or easy to misuse). Similarly, we are open to the idea that this tool might only be limitedly accessible, or only accessible at certain times, or have a variety of public and semi-private versions to regulate use. That is to say that our strategies for unveiling must be moderate and goal-oriented, even if that means that the tool doesn’t have all the bells and whistles that we or others might want. One metaphor that we personally like is the 2020 Hong Kong protests’ directive to “be water” while protesting. This advice may be appropriate in this circumstance as well. What “being water” means for us will depend on the immediate needs of activists using the tool, and we should be agile enough to adapt the tool to these needs.

One such need is fast approaching in January 2021, and this provides us with a concrete timeline and directive for this phase of development, as well as a good example of what “being water” could mean for us. The current CDC eviction moratorium phases out at the end of the year, and although its efficacy is contested (especially in Georgia), housing lawyers anticipate a massive swell of evictions in the first days of 2021 (Housing Justice League 2020). Here, a day-by-day timeline is important. January 1 is a holiday and a Friday, meaning that courts won’t be open again until Monday the 4th. Traditionally, counties process eviction filings slowly at the beginning of the year because courts have been closed for the two weeks since Christmas and have to process backlog. This is expected to be even more severe this year due to the backlog from the moratorium.

Two other dates are important in January. The first is January 5, the date of the two national Senate election races, around which massive influxes of national attention and money are converging into Georgia and on Atlanta in particular. The city can expect a megaphone effect for any issues around this time as the fate of the Senate and the national governing coalition rests on the shoulders of grassroots organizers across the state. That Atlanta’s mayor has been shortlisted as HUD secretary puts the spotlight even more directly on the importance of Atlanta housing for federal policy and the interest that could be garnered nationally around this topic. Housing activists are aware of the potentials and the challenges that this might mean, as vulnerable tenants serve as political collateral for other issues and campaigns. If our tool can facilitate organizing, there is potential to build off of the energy surrounding the elections.

The second important date is January 20, Inauguration Day. President-elect Biden has the authority to make broad executive orders surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic, and there is good reason to assume that these will include new eviction-related housing policies. Until this date, however, it is unclear whether any directives, legislative or executive, can be expected at the federal level. Likewise, Georgia’s Governor Kemp has not signaled that he approves of issuing pandemic relief from the state level. Here is where local tactics become important. The first three weeks of 2021 are expected to be a gray area for housing justice, activists and tenants facing eviction. Many landlords are expected to move quickly within this window to evict as many people as possible before new regulations emerge, and tenant advocates have an incentive to gum up the works in eviction processing for these 3 weeks. We hope that our tool might be of punctual service here, providing easy, clear, spatial information to tenant outreach and landlord information for other forms of protesting, lobbying and intervention. What’s more, in the unveiling process, time is on the side of activists, as there will be a natural delay before the tool becomes more broadly known outside of our immediate social networks. Once the new administration is in office, we can expect that pressure will release a little. So, with reference to earlier, it may be enough for our tool to go live during this short window, after which the tool could be taken offline and evaluated. If needed, a new implementation strategy could be discussed among stakeholders.

Overall, these are some of the considerations that have fueled our design and release of the landlord and eviction map. Although this conversation might show the in-the-weeds, un-cool part of community organizing, it is important to ensure that the tools we build serve and protect the communities they are meant to, rather than our wishes as academics and researchers. In the coming weeks, we will reconvene with housing activists, give them a rundown of the tool and prepare for a launch in time for 2021.


Boeing, G. 2020. “The Right Tools for the Job: The Case for Spatial Science Tool-Building.” Transactions in GIS, 24 (5), 1299-1314. doi:10.1111/tgis.12678

Eubanks, V., 2018. Automating inequality: How high-tech tools profile, police, and punish the poor. St. Martin’s Press.

Other Links and resources:

Detroit Community Technology Project. URL: Last accessed: November 23, 2020.

Housing Justice League. 2020. Mass Meeting 17 November 2020. online

Library Freedom Project. URL: Last accessed: November 23, 2020.

Lucy Parsons Labs. URL: Last accessed: November 23, 2020.

MuckRock. URL: Last accessed: November 23, 2020.

NYC Landlord Lookup. 2020. URL: Last accessed: November 23, 2020.

Wem Gehört Berlin? 2018. URL: Last accessed: November 23, 2020.

Wisconsin Policy Forum & Urban Economic Development Association (UEDA). 2019. URL: Last accessed: November 23, 2020.

Eviction Mapping Tool for Housing Justice League

by Noldy Belizaire, Phillip Carnell and Colin Delargy

September, 2020

Maps are a popular tool used for tracking evictions (for example herehere, and here). Mapping provides an accessible, attractive and easy-to-use way of communicating information to a wide audience. While evictions have always been a chronic problem in Atlanta, COVID-19 has put the limelight on this topic as housing insecurity has skyrocketed with the economic fallout from the pandemic. It is more and more important get critical information out to advocates who are assisting renters facing eviction. Our group met up with one tenant advocacy organization in Atlanta, Housing Justice League (HJL) to dialogue about how well available mapping tools for Atlanta help them accomplish their goals. From this meeting, we took some of the feedback and gaps raised by HJL to create an updated mapping tool better suited to their needs. In this post, we talk about the considerations that have gone into the development of this tool and outline some of its features. We tried to create a tool that can be used to achieve a broad range of HJL’s goals and be used by various stakeholders that HJL works with. Our map builds off of others by being able to auto-populate new eviction data as it comes in, by focusing on useability and by providing evictions data at the hyper-local building level (rather than aggregating by census tract).

 Background – Evictions and evictions data

 National and local media outlets have given attention to a current and impeding eviction crisis. Although this crisis is most acutely due to the COVID-19 economic crisis, its roots extend back at least to policy and market responses in the years following the 2008 mortgage crisis. The response of the federal government to this crisis has been sloppy, shallow and inconsistent. Although some policies for preventing widespread eviction have been issued by federal agencies, there is no coordinated national program or practice to act on those policies, nor any guarantee of their longevity. This action, and by extent the processing of evictions themselves, is instead largely handled at local, county and state levels (Benford, Greene & Hagan, 2020). This means that  effective tenant advocacy must focus on the needs, legislative context and practices at the local level, rather than dealing with broader national strategies (Graziani & Shi, 2020).

Activist and advocacy groups have a long history of assisting tenants facing eviction in Atlanta, where eviction rates have been among the highest in the country for years. The current crisis has impacted their approaches, however, by forcing them to act more swiftly and more comprehensively in recent months. Organizations have had to update their operations to deal with the scope and speed of COVID-caused evictions. In addition, they have had to untangle – and help tenants untangle inconsistent and confusing government mandates regarding eviction moratoriums. Community organizations find themselves checking whether evictions are legal or illegal, formal (through the courts) or informal, and isolated or structural. The strategies that local advocates then pursue also have to encompass the particularities of each of a broad range of contexts.

Both evictions and evictions data are complicated, messy phenomena that take on a variety of forms. Formal evictions filed within county courts, for example, only represent a small, legally documented subset of evictions. The reality of eviction is that both informal and illegal evictions go undocumented and organizing data-driven interventions for these types of displacements is very difficult.  Evictions data themselves are not perfect indicators for displacement either, because different types of landlords use eviction fillings for different reasons. While large, corporate landlords regularly file for evictions as a pro forma warning sign to tenants, these filings do not always signify an intent to remove evictees. On the other hand, smaller landlords who might be willing to work with tenants on a personal level to arrange rent payments will choose eviction as a last resort to get an actual removal (Garboden & Rosen, 2019; Immergluck, et al. 2020). It is important to recognize the limitations of evictions data because it informs the limitations we face in trying to map that data. Although mapping tools can support activists, they must be accompanied by other actions to get to the problems at the heart of the eviction crisis.

Nevertheless, eviction trends in Atlanta – in both the subset of formal filings and generally – are concentrated spatially and demographically in neighborhoods with high rates of black and indigenous people of color (BIPOC) residents (Immergluck, et al. 2020). Housing insecurity affects BIPOC disparately and is most rampant in areas of the city with higher concentrations of BIPOC (Immergluck, et al. 2020). Other spatially determined variables affect the rate of evictions in an area, including landlord type, rate of tenure and income level, all of which also have a spatial component. Literature suggests that the causes of eviction extend beyond just not being able to pay rent and that evictions contribute to a self-perpetuating cycle of housing insecurity in areas where they are most widespread.

Working together

To facilitate eviction advocacy during the COVID-19 pandemic, HJL reached out to a faculty member at Georgia Tech’s School of City and Regional Planning. Our group responded to this request and are collaborating together to effectively mobilize our resources to the needs of HJL.

What resources and goals are we actually talking about here? HJL has worked for years advocating for tenants mostly in Fulton County. Their work has included both the ground work of mitigating current evictions as well as broader organizing strategies to help tenant groups form, self-advocate and work with one another. HJL has enjoyed recent success in outreach efforts that were hyper-local in targeting tenants threatened by evictions (canvasing and distributing flyers at the block or building-level). At the same time, a central tenet of their work is providing strategic assistance across the county to renters (see their Eviction Defense Manual).

Tenant organizing and activism practices are often seen in conjunction with planning and planning researchers throughout communities in the US. One inspiring example for us has been the Anti-Eviction Mapping Project (AEMP) in the San Francisco Bay area (Maharawal & McElroy, 2017). In addition to using mappings to do eviction advocacy, AEMP has focused on addressing issues that often accompany collaborations between academia and activist initiatives. Researchers have widespread means of mobilizing resources, but they have also been accused of coopting or ignoring the knowledge generated “on the ground”, retaining a monopoly on knowledge production, prioritizing their own work over others’ and actually undermining or sidelining advocacy efforts of other organizations (Graziani & Shi, 2020). Obviously, we want to avoid these traits where we can. One approach we took was that rather than predefining our resources, we met with HJL in order to identify an inventory of resources would be most useful to them. These wound up being:

▫   Access to data on formal evictions and property ownership across Atlanta’s five county region

▫   Knowledge of broad eviction trends (both across space and time)

▫   Access to data processing programs (some of which are quite expensive/require expert knowledge to use)

▫   Access to IT professionals with a concentration in spatial data analysis

▫    Use of online resources including server storage (for storing/hosting databases and interface) and this blog!

Housing Justice League, on the other hand:

▫   Has extensive knowledge and practice in organizing and protecting tenants

▫   Practical insight into what approaches and tools are most effective for reducing the total number of evictions and removals

▫   A strong networks of tenant organizations throughout the county

▫   Existing effective advocacy tools to inform and give meat to new efforts

In light of these resources and limitations that each group is faced with, we have decided to develop a beta-model of an online interactive mapping of evictions as a first output of our collaboration. More information on this model will be presented in future posts.

Next Steps 

Initial evictions data has been gathered for this project and a request for a prototype map has been sent out to the Center for Spatial Planning Analytics and Visualization (CSPAV) at Georgia Tech. In the next phase of the project, we will continue to work with and between CSPAV and HJL to ensure the product that is developed is actually useable. In addition to collecting more data and collaborating on the design process, we are planning two feedback rounds between HJL and CSPAV before launching the tool.




at Georgia Tech