Photo of Margaret Burgess

Margaret Burgess

  • Hosted by Atlanta Legal Aid Society
  • Sponsored by Cox Enterprises, Eversheds Sutherland (US) LLP
  • Service location Atlanta, Georgia
  • Law school University of California, Berkeley, School of Law
  • Issue area Civil Rights/Civil Liberties
  • Fellowship class year 2018
  • Program Design Your Own Fellowship

The Project

Compared to much of the country, metro Atlanta has a significant fair housing problem in its rental market. The problem has been further exacerbated by Atlanta’s rapid growth and gentrification, affordable housing crisis, and recent spike in evictions in minority communities. Low-income renters, including public housing residents, often suffer the brunt of this discrimination. Even so, there is little to no fair housing enforcement working to stop it.

Margaret will help address this gap in enforcement by creating Atlanta Legal Aid’s first dedicated fair housing rental enforcement practice. By providing direct legal representation to low-income victims of housing discrimination, her project aims to both remedy past discrimination and deter future bad actors. In particular, the project will focus on fighting the most prevalent forms of discrimination observed in this market—for one, excluding applicants with any sort of arrest record or criminal history, often resulting in racial discrimination; as well as refusing to accommodate renters with disabilities, and often evicting them on that basis.

Fellowship Plans

In the first six months, Margaret will:

  • Build partnerships with Metro Fair Housing Services and other sister organizations who will be referral sources.
  • Distribute a Know Your Rights brochure to sister organization
  • Train Atlanta Legal Aid attorneys to spot fair housing claims during client intake and refer such cases to her.
  • Represent three clients in eviction cases involving fair housing counterclaims.
  • Review five potential fair housing cases for affirmative litigation.


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