LAA to assess needs of Latino families in Georgia
The LAA is conducting an assessment of community needs in 2021, in partnership with Dalton State College.

LAA staff is working closely with researchers from the Wright School of Business and the college’s social sciences department to assess and better understand the needs of Latino families in Georgia.

The LAA’s CEO, Santiago Márquez, said that with the setbacks that Latino families have experienced this past year, the timing is right for assessing where Latinos are now and how their needs have shifted. The last time the LAA conducted a community needs assessment was in 2015.

“The needs of the Latino community now are different from where the needs were a year ago,” Márquez said. “Many families are now struggling to meet basic needs.”

Dalton State College is a Hispanic-Serving Institution, a federal designation granted to colleges whose student population is at least 25% Hispanic. About a third of DSC’s student body is Hispanic. The LAA opened a service center in Northwest Georgia in 2018 and its director, Eva Rodríguez, has worked closely with DSC and other community partners since.

“Dalton State College is excited to participate in the LAA community needs assessment study,” said lead researcher Fernando García, assistant professor of management at the Wright School of Business. “The knowledge we gain from this study will allow LAA staff to better understand and serve the changing needs of the state’s growing Latino population.”

García said that DSC wishes to publish the findings in academic journals. The study will cover the areas of metro Atlanta and northwest Georgia.
Dear friends,

I write to you with a heavy heart. I keep replaying in my mind the despicable events that took place the first week of January in our nation’s Capitol, still in disbelief. We condemn the violence that Americans displayed toward their fellow Americans in the sacred halls of Congress. It holds no place in our country.

Many of the families we serve at the LAA escaped violent governments to find shelter in a country that upholds its democratic ideals as sacred. What we saw last week in Washington is not the America I know and love. It is not the country that we call home.

While last week and last year were difficult, I remain confident that we have much to look forward to in 2021.

We hope that you’ll follow along with us as we move forward with our mission to continue serving this beloved community.

Happy New Year,
Lawrenceville office stays busy helping Gwinnett families

During the first week of January, the LAA’s Gwinnett office received 216 calls. That’s more than twice as many as the office was getting weekly last year during the pandemic.

Odile Méndez, manager of the Gwinnett outreach center, spends her days answering the phone. “The calls don’t stop,” Méndez said. “Usually they call us from Gwinnett, but now the calls are coming in from Clayton, DeKalb, Fulton and other counties.”

The office, located in the heart of Lawrenceville, has been busy helping Latino families with financial assistance for rent and utilities, as well as with applications and renewals for benefits such as food stamps and Medicaid. The staff of three also does referrals for immigration legal services, English classes and domestic violence resources offered at the LAA’s main office on Buford Highway, and for outside providers.

The last few months of 2020 were busy for Méndez, who had to hire five contract workers to help disburse funds that the county received from the CARES Act, which offered $2 trillion in economic stimulus.

The Lawrenceville office disbursed about $300,000 more in rent and utilities assistance last year than in 2019. The staff served a record 900 families in 2020 with rental assistance and benefit enrollment.

Méndez, who grew up in the Dominican Republic, has been working with Latino families in the LAA’s Family Stabilization and Well-Being Department for the past six years.

What is sobering, Méndez says, is that most families don’t have a plan for navigating the current economic crisis. “They don’t have a back-up plan if they don’t get called back to work. They don’t have savings, and they’re not receiving much help out there.”
Families share stories of the
LAA's impact on their lives
Atlanta Outreach Center
2750 Buford Highway, NE
Atlanta, GA 30324
Northwest Georgia Outreach Center
508 E Morris St.
Dalton, GA 30721
Gwinnett Outreach Center
308 North Clayton St.
Lawrenceville, GA 30046
Follow us on