May 2020
The Fight Against Evictions Continues

Georgia Appleseed Healthy Housing Project has continued to work with partners to spur action on the critical issue of evictions during the COVID-19 crisis.

Shortly after publication of the  AJC article featuring Georgia Appleseed's Executive Director Michael Waller , the state Supreme Court approved a new rule requiring landlords to submit verification they are not subject to the CARES Act with any new filing.  More here .

Georgia Appleseed also helped coordinate research for Courts in Crisis: Exploring the Impact of COVID-19 on Eviction Court in Georgia , a report by the Center for Access to Justice at Georgia State University College of Law that looks at how eviction cases are being handled across the state of Georgia during COVID-19. The authors conclude that a confusing patchwork of responses creates a situation where "families suffering economic losses may now also lose the ability to shelter in place, jeopardizing their safety, security, and their children’s educational progress (as homes now also function as schoolhouses)."

If you would like to help, please ask Governor Kemp to halt evictions and foreclosures during this crisis . Homelessness is growing and will continue to grow during the COVID-19 pandemic without the moratorium. Your voice matters.

Contact Governor Kemp:

Call : (404) 656-1776   or  (844) 442-2681
 
Executive Director & Staff Update

As the Georgia Appleseed staff continues to work from home, we are also celebrating recent staff changes. The Board of Directors has selected Michael Waller, who as been acting as Interim Executive Director, as Executive Director . As well, Caroline Durham has joined the staff on a permanent basis as Legal and Policy Director, and Development and Program Coordinator Eloise Holland is now Communications Manager. Finally, former intern and University of Mississippi School of Law graduate KyMara (KG) Guidry will join the staff in fall 2020 as an Equal Justice Works Fellow.

Pictured above: the Georgia Appleseed staff celebrating interns KyMara (KG) Guidry and Victoria Miller in a Zoom meeting earlier this month. Top (l to r): Victoria Miller, Michael Waller, Abigail Gross; Middle: (l to r): Linda Hall Pitts, KG Guidry, Caroline Durham; Bottom (l to r): Lashawnda Woods-Roberts, Eloise Holland.
Equal Justice Works Fellow: Lashawnda Woods-Roberts

Georgia Appleseed's COVID-19 education response has been led by Equal Justice Works Fellow Lashawnda Woods-Roberts . Equal Justice Works mobilizes fellows across the country to address unmet legal needs to ensure equal access to justice for underserved communities. Lashawnda's fellowship has been focused primarily on access to education.

In an Equal Justice Works blog post about supporting students during COVID-19, Lashawnda shared, “Children in care often lack the social-emotional support that they so desperately need, and without formal student supports or special education services, many are falling further behind a curve that was already steep."

From coordinating biweekly Georgia Education Climate Coalition meetings to consulting with parents and social workers to creating online trainings about advocating for students, Lashawnda continues to work tirelessly to preserve the educational rights of Georgia's children.
Georgia Appleseed Holds First Online Training

On May 6, 2020, Equal Justice Works Fellow Lashawnda Woods-Roberts led Georgia Appleseed's first online training, Advocating for Your Child During a Pandemic, with co-presenters Kim H. Jones from NAMI Georgia and Cheryl Galloway-Benefield from the Office of School Safety and Climate at the Georgia Department of Education.

One attendee shared that the training provided, "great resources for parents as they navigate the new normal and experience mental health challenges for themselves or their children." You can access a recording of the training here until May 20, 2020. After that, you can request a link to the recording on our website .

Some useful resources shared by our partners during the training include the following:

For more information about Advocating for Your Child and other Georgia Appleseed trainings, please contact Lashawnda Woods-Roberts at lwroberts@gaappleseed.org . We'll post open upcoming trainings on our Facebook page .

New Ruling on Juvenile Shackling

Last month the Georgia Supreme Court ruled to eliminate the indiscriminate use of shackles on kids in the courtroom.

In this recent AJC article , Judge Steven Teske expressed guarded excitement, saying, “My concern is that courts may apply different approaches, creating a patchwork of restraint policies."

In 2018, Georgia Appleseed released Embracing the Common Wisdom: The New Juvenile Code in Georgia to assess the impact of the revised juvenile code after three years. As part of that report, we asked about juvenile shackling, which had not been comprehensively studied in Georgia previously. Some responses included the following:

  • “According to research the psychological impact is great, and trying to convince a child that they are innocent until presumed guilty while shackled is tough. It is particularly traumatic and troubling seeing children who are so small that the cuffs slip off their wrists."
  • "Adults are not shackled. But juveniles charged with the most minor crimes are shackled. It does not make sense. And it is contrary to the purpose of the juvenile code trying not to treat kids as criminals, but only as making bad choices.” 

Additional Resources

In recognition of the incredible impact COVID-19 is having on our lives and throughout our communities, we are continuing to share resources on our social media channels and our website . Below are a handful of resource lists gathered by trusted partners, which we hope will help connect people to the resources they need at this time:

  • GECC— Visit our Georgia Education Climate Coalition (GECC) page for information about partner organization's upcoming webinars and trainings.
  • 211—Calling 211 or searching the website can provide assistance finding food, paying housing bills, accessing childcare and more.
  • Atlanta Legal Aid—This resource list includes information about court closings, emergency food help, and more.
  • Georgia Department of Education—This DOE site includes links to school closure information and online learning resources.
  • Voices for Georgia’s Children—Voices has put together a robust list of news and resources around COVID-19, including financial resources, food assistance, closures, guidance on talking to children about the pandemic, and more.
  • Children's Healthcare of Atlanta—CHOA's Strong4Life resource page provides parenting guidance for the COVID-19 era, including how to talk about social distancing with kids, avoiding injuries during isolation, and much more.

We'd also like to share additional links that are helping us think about this unprecedented event and other justice-related issue: