Let Us Have Co-Living In Our Neighborhoods

Georgia State Lawmakers

House Bill 980 will keep local governments from unfairly limiting how many people can live in a house. It requires local boards to use the national HUD standard for defining families -- one that is broad and open. If the new law passes, it can help reduce inequality and open affordable housing for all.

The bill is bipartisan. Democrats like it because it helps reduce inequality. Republicans like it because it doesn't cost public money.

Atlanta has some of the worst inequality in America. That inequality is rooted in local zoning ordinances meant to reinforce the effects of white flight.

The law as it stands is arbitrary. It is unfair. Each local jurisdiction defines "family" a little differently and then says if there are too many "non-family" members present, someone has to leave. In fact, there are 83 different definitions of “family” throughout the state.

Today, the servers and cashiers and home health aides and delivery drivers of Georgia find themselves living in substandard conditions because if they complain, they become homeless instead. Local “family" definition laws criminalize poverty.

For a lot of people -- working people with poor credit or a past eviction -- the choice is to split a house with other people or to be homeless. The law as it is today would prefer them to be homeless. There's nothing about this bill that creates density ... because people are already living this way. They have no other choice.

The law today can even be used to block foster parents with too many kids.

HB 980 allows communities to solve neighborhood problems instead of pretending they don’t exist. It gives people trapped in extended-stay motels a way out. It helps prevent exploitation of the poor by shady landlords who count on the silence of their tenants.

These are teachers and baristas and warehouse workers -- regular people you see every day -- who need help finding affordable housing today. Not in a year, or five years: right now.

No one is proposing something better that will work right now.

Do not let one small group of NIMBYs derail legislation that can open up neighborhoods to co-living. NIMBYs don't want "those people" in their neighborhood.

That attitude is how we got into this mess.

Tell your elected officials to change the law and vote to pass House Bill 980.

To: Georgia State Lawmakers
From: [Your Name]

Thank you for your service to the state of Georgia!

I am writing to encourage you to vote in favor of House Bill 980 and keep local governments from unfairly limiting how many people can live in a house. Atlanta has some of the worst inequality in America. That inequality is rooted in local zoning ordinances meant to reinforce the effects of white flight and to keep working families geographically segregated.

HB 980 would require local requires local boards to use the national HUD standard for defining families -- one that is broad and open. I believe this law would help reduce inequality and open affordable housing for all.

Right now, there are 83 different definitions of "family" across Georgia cities. This leaves many working families trapped in extended-stay motels or struggling to afford their rent while shady landlords exploit their needs.

I believe HB 980 will allow communities to solve neighborhood problems instead of pretending they don’t exist. The bill is bipartisan. Democrats like it because it helps reduce inequality. Republicans like it because it doesn't cost public money.

Please vote YES in support of HB 980 and support working families' right to housing.

Thanks again for your time and consideration.