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Mokah Jasmine Johnson addresses housing crisis in Athens

Julianne Akers
Mokah Jasmine Johnson speaks at a press conference on the steps of Athens-Clarke County City Hall.

On the first day of early voting, Mokah Jasmine Johnson, Democratic candidate for Georgia House District 120, spoke on the steps of Athens-Clarke County City Hall to address the housing crisis in Athens.

“We must demand for the Georgia General Assembly to end the statewide ban on rent control. There is a housing crisis in Athens and throughout the state of Georgia,” Johnson said. “Families are still being homeless throughout my district because of predatory investors buying up property within our community or because of greedy landlords who recently decided to substantially increase their tenants' rent.”

One of those renters affected is Barbara Daniel. “You got homeless everywhere. You got children, mother, father walking the street at night, sleeping on the street. This just don’t make no sense because we got a lot of land around here in Athens,” she said.

Under state law, local governments can’t pass rent control ordinances. That’s a law Johnson and others say needs to be changed.

State Representative Spencer Frye (D-Athens) said that state lawmakers have a significant amount of power to tie the hands of local governments, like Athens-Clarke County.

“To do things like rent control, to do things like [a recently-passed policy in Atlanta that allows people to own only one short-term rental], we’re going to have to fight those policies from being overturned on a statewide level,” Frye said. “I think it’s important for everyone to understand that housing is one of the main components of a successful society. If you can’t be housed, you can’t do anything else.”

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