Although the federal COVID-19 moratorium on residential evictions has been temporarily reinstated, the Calcasieu Parish Police Jury’s Human Services Department wants to remind residents that they may now seek rental assistance to help ensure they are not evicted when the moratorium is lifted on Oct. 3.
“Our office recognizes that these are challenging times for many of our residents,” said Tarek Polite, Director of the Human Services Department. “In addition to the lifting of the eviction moratorium, there is also the challenge of the shortage of available housing in our area, making our services a necessity. We would like the residents of our parish to know that we are here to offer assistance and to do everything we can to help keep residents in their homes if possible.”
Some of the department's tips also apply to folks who don't live in the parish.
Calcasieu programs include Human Services’ Emergency Rental Assistance (ERA) Program, which helps eligible residents with housing-related expenses. The program, which will reopen its application process at 8 a.m. on Tuesday, Aug. 10, provides funding for past-due rental payments and can help pay forward rent and late fees. The program can also assist with past-due utility costs, such as water, gas, and electricity. Renters must be able to demonstrate that they have been financially impacted by COVID, meet local income requirements and be behind on rent. For information and to apply, visit www.calcasieuparish.gov/ERA[calcasieuparish.gov].
Other resources available through Calcasieu Parish Human Services include the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP), which provides utility assistance to income-qualified households; and the Community Services Block Grant (CSBG) program, which pays the first month’s rent and deposits for income-eligible households.
Here's some advice that will help outside the parish, too: If facing eviction, tenants are encouraged to reach out to their landlords to make a plan and to understand their next steps. If eviction is imminent, they should then seek legal advice.
Free and low-cost options for legal advice include:
- Acadiana Legal Service Corporation (ALSC): It provides free legal assistance in civil cases to those who could not otherwise afford it. Eligibility for services is based on an applicant’s income, age, financial resources, the merits of the case and ALSC’s availability of resources to address the client’s needs. Visit www.la-law.org [la-law.org] to find out more or call 337-439-0377.
- Southwest Louisiana Law Center: It provides legal advice and support to low-income households on a sliding scale. Call 337-436-3308 for information.
Additionally, these resources that may help:
- To find the state or local agency where you can apply for rental assistance, visit cfpb.gov/govrent or call 211 or your local housing authority for assistance.
- For help from local experts, contact the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD)’s housing counseling program at 800-569-4287 or visit consumerfinance.gov/find-a-housing-counselor.
- The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has information on its website where residents can apply for money to cover rent and utilities. For more information, visit consumerfinance.gov/renters
- Catholic Charities of SWLA: Provides rent, mortgage, and utility assistance. Call first to make an appointment at 337-439-7436
- Christ the King Catholic Church: Provides emergency rental and utility assistance for those living within the church's boundaries. Call 337-478-0213
- Care Help of Sulphur, Inc.: Provides emergency rental and utility assistance for residents of Sulphur, Carlyss, Westlake, Vinton, DeQuincy and Starks. Call 337-287-4793.