Candidate for DeKalb Sheriff Promises Eviction Moratorium
By Anna Simonton, Special to the Atlanta Progressive News
(APN) DEKALB COUNTY — Dekalb County residents facing eviction might have some reprieve, depending on the results of next week’s runoff election for Dekalb County Sheriff.
Candidate Vernon Jones, former CEO of the County, told Atlanta Progressive News in an interview on Tuesday, July 15, 2014, that, if elected, he would enact a six-month moratorium on all evictions in order to allow an advisory board to review recommendations put forth by Occupy Our Homes Atlanta (OOHA).
“I’m concerned with the way things are conducted right now,” Jones said. “We need a comprehensive program to respectfully deal with evictions.”
Former Dekalb County Sheriff Tom Brown–who challenged U.S. Rep. Hank Johnson for the Democratic nomination for U.S. Congress in the May 2014 Primary, had a track record of brutally handling evictions.
In a town hall meeting Monday, OOHA organizer Sarah Heck said the group has worked with homeowners who were evicted at 3am, whose belongings were hauled to the curb in inclement weather, and one veteran who was evicted at gunpoint.
Sheriff Jeff Mann, who took over when Brown resigned earlier this year, has not diverged from his predecessor’s policies, according to Tim Franzen, also an organizer for OOHA.
Mann recently led thirty deputies in evicting Dekalb resident Tammy Doe.
Mann has not yet responded to APN’s request for comment.
A private equity firm issued Doe’s eviction after purchasing the property from Chase Bank for half of what the mortgage was worth. The house was on the auction block because Chase refused to honor a loan modification Doe received from a previous lender, doubling her payments to an amount she could not afford.
Six of the top fifteen zip codes nationwide, for the highest number of “underwater” mortgages, are in DeKalb County, according to a report published by the Haas Institute for a Fair and Inclusive Society, at the University of California, Berkeley.
Jones says he would ask the advisory board to consider the root causes of foreclosure when developing responsible eviction policies.
“With evictions, you can’t do one-size-fits-all,” he said.
Some activists, however, have expressed doubt that Jones will keep his promises, based on past experiences. Still, promises are more than even Interim Sheriff Mann has given.
The runoff takes place July 22, 2014.