2020 Annual Report

At a Glance

clients served


Letter from the
Deputy Director

If you’ve been following us for a while, you know that we’ve been making big strides as an organization. 2019 was our 40th anniversary, and we kicked off the year implementing a brand new strategic plan that would help more and more Atlanta families achieve the safety and stability they deserve.

Then 2020 happened.

COVID-19 changed the world—and changed our organization, too.

From the lived experiences and lessons taught by both our staff and our clients, we at AVLF knew that people of color—as well as low-income tenants and survivors of intimate partner abuse, specifically—are often more vulnerable in a time of crisis. This is painfully true during the COVID-19 pandemic. As one of the many legacies of structural racism, people of color are suffering disproportionately during the pandemic, and there is an unprecedented eviction crisis looming. What’s more, survivors are even more trapped than before, often literally isolated with their abuser, and with fewer resources to help break free.

As the largest provider of holistic legal services to both tenants and survivors in Atlanta, and with a client population that is over 90% percent people of color, we felt strongly that we needed to do more to be part of the community response. As they always do, our amazing team responded with innovation, dedication, and compassion. You can read more about their efforts here.

In this Annual Report, you’ll hear from our staff, clients, and volunteers about the ways in which the pandemic turned our lives and our work upside down. We’re incredibly proud of our AVLF community in this time: we showed up for one another, pivoting at lightning speed to make sure we were providing the most critical and effective services during the most widespread emergency of our lifetimes. 

January 1, 2021 marks my first day as Executive Director at AVLF.  As I reflect on the year we survived and plan for how we want to grow in 2021, I keep thinking about how we—as a society, as a sector, as a people—are following along an arc toward more diversity, inclusion, and equity in our institutions. At AVLF, we are committed to striving for the same in our programming, our staff, executive leadership, and board.  As we end this challenging year, we recommit to those values, to the fight for equal justice, and to the change we want to see in our community and in our organization.  

I have no doubt that when we get that right and continue to better reflect – and listen to – our community, AVLF will make even greater strides towards a fairer and more equitable Atlanta. 

I look forward to reporting back to you on just that at the end of 2021. Thank you.


Michael Lucas

Deputy Director

2020 was Marty Ellin’s last year at AVLF

After 20 years of serving as our Executive Director, Marty Ellin said goodbye to AVLF. On December 18th, we hosted a live celebration of Marty’s decades-long commitment to the fight for equal justice.

In his 20 years, Marty grew the organizational budget to more than $5,000,000 and established the $1,000,000 SAFE Fund for operational reserves.

“The many, many gracious and loving friends I have made through working at AVLF have continued to stand with me and my family in every form possible.”

– Marty Ellin

Marty launched the nationally recognized Safe Families Office and Standing with Our Neighbors.