Celebrating Legislative Victories for Georgia Families

A Look at House Bill 404 and Senate Bill 169

Georgia’s legislative session has recently drawn to a close, marking a significant milestone for children and families across the state. As advocates for equitable and just policies, Georgia Appleseed is thrilled to announce the passing of two critical pieces of legislation we’ve championed over the past two years: House Bill 404 (HB404) and Senate Bill 169 (SB169). These legislative victories are a testament to the tireless efforts of our policy team and the unwavering support from our community partners.

House Bill 404: Pioneering Safer Housing with the Safe at Home Act

The Safe at Home Act, or HB404, represents a significant advancement to ensure that tenants have safer and more stable living environments. This legislation introduces essential standards for rental properties through a “warranty of habitability” and establishes a “right to cure” that offers a path to prevent evictions. The passage of HB404 is a crucial step forward in addressing the complex issues stemming from inadequate housing, including significant health concerns, educational setbacks, and increased risks of juvenile justice system involvement among children.

The enactment of this bill was a priority for the Georgia Healthy Housing Coalition (GHHC), aligning with our 10-year advocacy plan aimed at enhancing access to safe and stable housing for renting families across Georgia. Our collaborative efforts with legislators and partners, including the Housing Justice League, HouseATL, Atlanta Volunteer Lawyers Foundation, and other GHHC members, were instrumental in securing these vital tenant protections.

 Senate Bill 169: Championing Education and Equity Youth

Our policy team drafted Senate Bill 169 to address systemic injustices we encountered in working with youth if foster care facing school tribunals. SB169 ensures that suspended students have prompt disciplinary hearings and continuous access to educational materials while waiting, addressing gaps in support that leave them academically behind. The improvements SB169 brings to the disciplinary process help to dismantle the school-to-prison pipeline. Considering that an 11-day suspension can drastically reduce a student’s graduation prospects, this legislation impacts not only individual students, but our communities and the future workforce of Georgia.

A Unified Effort

The near-unanimous support for HB404 and SB169 in both the House and Senate, with a combined total of just four dissenting votes, underscores the broad recognition of the importance of these initiatives. Our leadership’s efforts to highlight these bills, including an op-ed from Executive Director Michael Waller and a letter to the editor from our Board Chair Eric Fisher in the Atlanta Journal Constitution, brought critical attention to these issues.

As we celebrate these legislative wins, we are reminded of the power of advocacy and the difference we can make when we come together for the greater good. These victories for HB404 and SB169 are not just wins for Georgia Appleseed; they are wins for every child and family in Georgia. We look forward to seeing the positive impacts of these laws in the years to come and remain committed to continuing our advocacy for policies that ensure equity and justice for all Georgians.