Governor John Bel Edwards announced the launch of what will be at least a $24 million emergency rental assistance program for renters experiencing financial hardship as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.
Administered and funded by the Louisiana Housing Corporation (LHC) in partnership with the State of Louisiana Office of Community Development (OCD), the Louisiana Emergency Rental Assistance Program is designed to help households financially impacted as a result of shutdowns, closures, layoffs, reduced work hours or unpaid leave due to the pandemic.
The first phase of the program is funded with $7 million from the HOME Investment Partnership Program that is currently available, and the next phases will be funded by $5 million in Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) funds and $12 million in Emergency Solutions Grant (ESG) funds through the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act. CDBG and ESG funds are not yet available, but are expected very soon. All the funding is provided to the state from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).
“This program provides much-needed assistance to households across our state who have been greatly affected by the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Gov. John Bel Edwards. “Workers and families are the foundation of our communities and by coming together to address their needs, we ensure the continued health and well-being of Louisiana’s children and families.”
This program will also provide financial assistance for Louisiana renters who are not current on their rent and/or at imminent risk of eviction due to COVID-19. Monthly emergency rental payments will be paid according to the amount on the lease agreement, not to exceed the fair market rents for a designated area. The payment amount is dependent upon income, household size and fair market rent prices. All payments will be made directly to landlords.
“The LHC is constantly exploring ways to address the needs of our citizens and the cost burden placed upon them by the COVID-19 health crisis,” said LHC Executive Director E. Keith Cunningham, Jr. “Today’s announcement means that we are in a position to save individuals and families from homelessness or eviction.
The Louisiana Emergency Rental Assistance Program is designed to assist households whose income does not exceed $13,500 - $25,450, dependent upon household size.
“The COVID-19 pandemic is creating particular hardships for our most vulnerable residents, most of whom rely on rental housing,” OCD Executive Director Pat Forbes said. “Many of these individuals and families are facing potential eviction because their incomes have been impacted by the pandemic. This allows the state to address that threat in a way that helps our people be more secure in their housing situations.”
LHC has partnered with Louisiana 211 to assist applicants with submitting an intake form. Renters affected by business shutdowns, closures, layoffs and reduced work hours as well as those receiving enhanced unemployment benefits are strongly encouraged to apply.
The Louisiana Emergency Rental Assistance Program launched Thursday, July 16. Renters may complete an intake form online at LaRentHelp.com or via phone by dialing 2-1-1. Additional information is available by texting "LaRentHelp" to 898-211. For a list of additional resources, programs, and services available to homeowners and/or renters, visit our website at www.lhc.la.gov.
Housing Louisiana President Andreanecia Morris says that the number that will be provided does not meet what was asked in June.
“We urge the public and the media to look at the data that we presented last month and carefully examine the Governor’s plan, as we will be doing, before coming to a conclusion about it. The data we presented in June lays out a minimum of $250 Million needed for rental assistance through the end of 2020. If you compare the money spent on other programs in the battle against COVID-19, that number dwarfs what leaders have dedicated to meeting the most basic need in this crisis – ensuring everyone has a home to shelter in. And that is simply not good enough," Morris said.
In a letter to Edwards, HosingLOUISIANA estimated that a range of $250-$500 million will be needed to keep Louisiana renters in their homes through the end of this year. The group is asked the Governor set aside funding from various sources, including the Coronavirus Relief Fund, Community Development Block Grants, and Emergency Solutions Grants, to assist renters unable to pay rent due to Covid-19.
Click HERE for more information from HousingLOUISIANA.
Click HERE to apply for the Louisiana Emergency Rental Assistance Program
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