Letter From Leadership: AVLF in the Times of COVID-10


A letter from Executive Director Marty Ellin.


“Stay home.” “Stay safe.” These are the tag lines to every conversation I have with friends, with colleagues, with loved ones. It is not hard for me to do: my home is safe, and inconvenience is my largest complaint.

But for many Atlantans, home is anything but safe. Home is shared by an abuser from whom there is now nowhere to hide. Home is where the landlord’s indifference means that rodents have too-easy access, or that water pours in every time it rains and mold grows as a consequence on the walls where asthmatic children must now live 24 hours each day.

We are doing our part to slow the spread of this virus – and, still, we continue to work full-time for Atlantans in a time of deep crisis.



These COVID-19 days, we are taking control of what we can. Our staff does not go to our offices at the Courthouse, or in the APS schools, or even in Peachtree Center. We are doing our part to slow the spread of this virus – and, still, we continue to work full-time for Atlantans in a time of deep crisis.

If it will lift your heart to learn that in this time of uncertainty, we continue to stand with those who get hurt most easily, please read on.

Our telephone intake lines remain open. Our Saturday Lawyer Program has transitioned to an all-digital Saturday Lawyer Day clinic, complete with client interviews and attorney debriefs conducted via Zoom. We are still placing landlord-tenant cases with volunteer attorneys.  

Our Safe & Stable Families Team continues to serve survivors of intimate partner abuse via remote means. Each day, our team speaks with everyone who has filed a petition for a protective order to consider a safety plan with them and to evaluate and as necessary suggest modifications for their petitions. By order of Chief Judge Brasher, all current protective orders are extended until further notice. Volunteer attorneys and our staff social workers continue to offer legal and support services to survivors by phone.

We will continue to stand with our clients in every manner possible. If your time permits, you can help us by offering to volunteer remotely. 



Our Family Law Program continues to consult with clients remotely, placing cases with experienced family law attorneys as appropriate. The Guardian ad Litem Program continues to evaluate requests from judges, and reaches out to place those matters with volunteer attorneys, while supporting the work of existing Guardians.

The Standing with Survivors Mobile Advocacy Program has ceased going out into the community to connect with clients and partners, but continues to operate remotely at full capacity due to the increase in referrals to our program from our community partners.

Our Standing with Our Neighbors (SWON) program is staying connected and accessible to all of our clients and their schools. As needs arise, we are coordinating the distribution of food and supplies at designated sites. While our Eviction Defense Program is not currently active because the Court has temporarily suspended evictions, we know that we will be inundated with requests for help once the system starts moving again, and are preparing now for that certainty. We hope to expand the hours of the Housing Court Assistance center to meet this need.

We will be here every day, committed and driven to honor our promise to create safe and stable homes and families by inspiring the fight for justice.


We will continue to stand with our clients in every manner possible. If your time permits, you can help us by offering to volunteer remotely. Attorneys, you can interview a potential client by phone, or draft a demand letter for a tenant living in a rental home that violates the Housing Code. Or, if you’ve taken our Intimate Partner Abuse training, you can be prepared to stand with survivors when the courts are back in session.

Email us if you’re interested in volunteering. We’ll direct you to the right place.

Help us help our clients as you can. We will be here every day, committed and driven to honor our promise to create safe and stable homes and families by inspiring the fight for justice.
 

With gratitude,

Marty Ellin
Executive Director


Want to read other Letters From Leadership? They are an easy way to find out what drives us here at AVLF. You can find them all here.