Safe & Stable Families
The Safe & Stable Families project is devoted to helping survivors of intimate partner abuse achieve safety and stability. Our committed team of social workers, attorneys, legal support, and more work to holistically address survivors’ needs, from Temporary Protective Orders to emergency lodging to health and safety supplies.
Through Zoom family law and protective order hearings, mobile advocacy efforts, virtual social work services, and more, the Safe & Stable Families team and their volunteers provided uninterrupted support to Atlanta survivors throughout the COVID-19 crisis.
The Safe Families Office
Walk-in (currently virtual!) lawyer-staffed advice clinic for survivors of intimate partner abuse
Standing with Survivors
Mobile advocacy program that meets survivors out in the community
Family Law Program
Provides free family law representation for survivors of intimate partner abuse
Guardian ad Litem
Trains local attorneys to serve as pro bono Guardians ad Litem for children in high-conflict custody cases
“It was an honor to use my technology skills and experience with AVLF cases to smooth the way and bring some peace of mind to clients in these unprecedented times.”
– JoAnna Smith, Georgia Family Law Project, LLC
The Family Law Program
gets some extra help
COVID threw many curveballs in 2020, but one silver lining was that Troutman Pepper reached out to see if AVLF could use the help of any of their newest class of associates.
The Family Law Program jumped at that opportunity, and Troutman sent Andrew Mueller to assist us in the fall. With COVID bringing new constraints on volunteer resources, Andrew arrived at the perfect time to help us continue serving as many clients as possible.
Andrew dove in headfirst. He helped with client meetings, worked with clients to prepare for their court hearings and gather necessary documents, and supported our Staff Attorney Trevi-Ann Thompson with her preparation for many hearings. On top of all that, he spearheaded a project to help us provide more services for clients when we are unable to provide them a volunteer attorney.
We truly don’t know what we would have
done without Andrew. Thank you, Andrew, for spending the fall with us. We look forward to many years of working with you as a volunteer!
Jamie Perez on GPB
COVID-19 has had a profound impact on survivors of intimate partner abuse. In this interview, Safe & Stable Families Director Jamie Perez talks to Virginia Prescott of GPB’s On Second Thought about the dangers of quarantine for survivors—and how we’re here to help.
“ was a time of heightened need for several AVLF clients, and I’m proud that we were able to obtain temporary protective orders for so many women. Having the opportunity to create real and lasting change for families in need is a privilege and an honor.”
– Thad Kodish, Fish & Richardson PC
awarded to survivors for child support, spousal support, reimbursement for damage to property, etc.
Safe & Stable Homes
Whether it’s contesting an illegal eviction or demanding repairs, our Safe & Stable Homes Project is dedicated to helping low-income renters and workers access the justice they deserve. Our staff and volunteers prevent evictions, provide financial advice, and help tenants navigate the often inscrutable justice system.
When COVID-19 hit, it became the year of uncertainty and constant change. Our Safe & Stable Homes Project pivoted to continue to serve our community. We’ve transitioned all Saturday Lawyer clinics and trainings remotely, expanded our Housing Court Assistance Center (HCAC), and recruited more volunteer attorneys.
Housing Court Assistance Center
Walk-in advice clinic for Fulton County tenants facing eviction
Saturday Lawyer Program
One-on-one legal support for Atlanta workers and tenants
Eviction Defense Program
Free legal advice and representation for Fulton County residents with active evictions
Standing with Our Neighbors Program
Place-based legal support and wraparound services operating out of nine Atlanta schools
Probate Information Center
Free legal advice on probate matters
Dollars for Judgments
Collection assistance to make sure clients recover all funds awarded to them in court
Giovanna is a stand out volunteer who consistently goes above and beyond in pursuit of justice for our clients. She is never satisfied with just stellar legal representation—which would be plenty!—but she is also concerned with our clients’ overall well-being. She helps our clients get back on their feet and even solicits donations for families who can’t meet their basic needs.
“Being an attorney is an honor that comes with privilege. I appreciate AVLF for providing a platform for attorneys to leverage our privilege to provide access and resources to the surrounding community.”
– Giovanna Soto
WABE Features the Housing Court Assistance Center
In response to the tidal wave of evictions looming over the city, we significantly expanded our Housing Court Assistance Center. In 2020 alone, HCAC saw over 820 Atlanta tenants who needed help filing an answer in their eviction case.
In this interview, Stephannie Stokes of WABE speaks to Viraj Parmar, the Managing Attorney at HCAC, about tenants’ experiences with the courts at the start of the pandemic.
As seems to be our yearly tradition, our staff and partners at Kilpatrick Townsend took on a complex-wide legal issue in 2020.
A Section 8 landlord notified over half of the residents in the complex that they owed back rent and utility payments—dating back to 2003 for some long-term residents. The landlord claimed that our clients were criminals who were dishonest in an effort to game the system, and that they would be evicted absent immediate payment.
The pandemic had been stressful enough without the threat of losing their housing—and for our clients in this complex (many of whom are elderly), the situation was causing extra stress. Fortunately, the tenant association president (and long-time partner of AVLF) contacted us in an effort to get the balances cleared and again instill a sense of security in the neighborhood.
Kilpatrick did not balk when we told them that 13 tenants needed our help. They immediately formed a team of five attorneys who sought to make the situation right. In addition to regular negotiation with the landlord, the team connected with the clients via group Zoom calls, an outdoor clinic, and multiple socially-distanced meetings in an effort to resolve the matter.
After Kilpatrick’s involvement and the tenants’ own advocacy within the City, the landlord was forced to do an internal review of their operations and systems, which resulted in new property managers and compliance departments. The clients’ balances were cleared—even leaving some clients with a credit on their accounts.
After finally receiving a check from her landlord, a Stanton Oaks resident emotionally told our staff that she appreciates us “looking out for her” because “people don’t look after each other like that anymore.” She even wants to “do lunch” with AVLF and the Kilpatrick team!
Community Assistance Program
While the number of Atlantans who need emergency financial assistance has grown exponentially during the pandemic, the issue isn’t new. Atlanta’s affordable housing crisis, eviction epidemic, and sky-high rates of homelessness mean that families need immediate access to emergency financial support to keep them safe in their homes.
This year, our Community Assistance team provided over $1.8 million in direct financial assistance to Atlanta families in crisis.
In 2020 alone, our Community Assistance Team has served nearly 800 families with a total of more that $828,000 in emergency financial assistance.
Community Assistance Director, Sonya Humphries share more about the team’s work in this Letter from Leadership
Ms. Fuller is a hard-working single mother of a son with severe schizophrenia. She had been working at her job for more than a decade and she absolutely loved it — she was often required to leave work early or take the day off in order to care for her son, and her employer was always happy to work with her.
When COVID-19 hit, her workplace shut its doors. Devastated, Ms. Fuller started scrambling to find a new job and was putting in more applications a day than she could count. She would receive interviews and call backs but as soon as she disclosed her son’s condition to them, they would take back their offers.
Meanwhile, she tried to keep up with rent and afford her child’s medicine because they no longer had insurance. She applied for Medicaid and unemployment, but because of the overwhelming demand, they took months to get back to her.
After all her savings was depleted, she began to fall behind on her rent and received an eviction notice from her landlord.
Ms. Fuller contacted AVLF seeking emergency financial assistance to help her catch up with her bills. Due to the generous funders that support our emergency financial assistance program, we were able to help Ms. Fuller and her son avoid homelessness and giving her the resources to focus on her job search.