Starting Thursday, April 1, Lafayette Parish residents can apply for help in paying rent or utilities.
More than $7 million in federal funds have been sent to Lafayette to help low and moderate income families who are struggling because of the pandemic, Lafayette officials announced Wednesday.
You can apply with Catholic Charities or SMILE online, in person or with a paper application. The agencies will be sharing their information so that multiple applications aren't granted.
The rental assistance funds will be paid directly to landlords. The utility assistance funds will be paid directly to the utility company. The program will pay up to 12 months in back rent and utility bills, and up to three months in future rental and utility payments.
Priority will be given to households in which at least one person has been unemployed for at least 90 days because of the pandemic, and to those whose income is 50 percent or less of Lafayette's median income. To be eligible, renters have to be qualified or have previously qualified for unemployment, or experienced economic hardship because of COVID; you must be able to prove past-due rent or utility bills; the total household income is 80 percent or less of the Lafayette median income.
Landlords can help their tenants apply. Landlords who accept this money must also follow certain rules: they can't evict the person for at least three months after the assistance ends; they must forgive all late fees, penalties, interest and any portion of the rent that exceeds fair market rent. They must also forgive all court costs.
Starting on Thursday, April 1, you will be able to apply by going to the Catholic Charities website here; by visiting smilecaa.org, by texting CCA RENT to 797979 or by visiting SMILE. You can call the human services office at 337.291.5450 if you need help filling out an application.
If you don't live in Lafayette Parish and you need help, you can go to www.lastaterent.com to apply for help, or you can call 877.459.6555.
Here are some details sent to us by LCG:
Emergency funds must first be used to pay overdue rent before receiving assistance for future rent payments. Eligible households may receive up to 12 months of rental assistance or up to 12 months of overdue rental assistance, plus an additional three months if it’s determined the extra months are needed to ensure housing stability. If needed, households may reapply for additional aid at the end of the three-month period if the overall time limit of 12 months for assistance is not exceeded.
Eligibility is based on a renter household in which at least one or more individuals meets the following criteria:
· Qualifies for unemployment or has had a reduction in household income, incurred significant costs, or experienced a financial hardship due to COVID-19
· Demonstrates a risk of experiencing homelessness or housing instability; and
· Household income must not exceed 80 percent of the Area Median Income (AMI) for Lafayette Parish.
The median family income for Lafayette Parish is $65,200 but what the figure you will use depends on how many people live in your household.
Follow this link to figure that out: https://www.huduser.gov/portal/datasets/il/il2020/2020summary.odn
And here's an infographic about the program: