With much of the economy shut down, some people may have difficulty paying their rent or mortgage. We've put together some links and information here that might help.
If you're fortunate enough to not have a problem with paying your rent or house note, and you'd like to help people who need it, the organizations linked below all accept and need donations now. Just click through to find options to donate.
You do have rights as a renter. To get information about what your landlord can and can't do right now, click here. The Louisiana Fair Housing Action Center, a non-profit civil rights organization focused on housing, also prepared a video with some renters' questions answered.
Here's the video:
If you're renting there are two things to know: First, as long as the governor's stay-at-home order is in place, your landlord can't start the eviction process against you. However, and second, as soon as the order is lifted, the eviction process can start. That means you still need to pay your rent if at all possible, because your rent is not being forgiven by the order. All the order does is prevent your landlord from starting the eviction process against you. It doesn't mean he can't evict you later, or that you can't be charged late fees.
It's a little different for people living in housing projects and Section 8 housing.
If you're living in public housing, the President's order did the following:
· Suspension of Notices to Vacate and lease violations
· Suspension of evictions
· Suspension of transfer and move ins
· Suspension of routine work orders
· Emergency work orders may require additional troubleshooting via phone calls
· Suspension of housekeeping inspections
· Suspension of late fees
· Suspension of all resident activities to include Resident Council
· Recertification deadlines will be extended
· Rental payments should be made via mail or drop box; receipts for rent payments will be mailed later
· Visitors for social purposes, especially at elderly properties are discouraged; medically related visitors and caregivers may continue to visit residents
· Pest control services will be conducted on the exterior of buildings and common areas. Routine interior pest control services will be suspended.
If you live in Section 8 housing, the President's order did the following:
· Existing repayment agreements will be extended
· Suspension of annual recertifications
· Suspension of inspections except for true emergencies
· Suspension of terminations
· Suspension of voucher issuance for current and new clients
· Suspension of moves
· Postponing issuing vouchers and voucher briefings for portability while the agency is close
If you own your home, here's what the Louisiana Fair Housing Action Center says about foreclosures:
CARES (that's the federal order) prevents foreclosures for all federally-backed mortgages (including those covered by HUD, USDA, FHA, VA, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac). From March 18, 2020, people with federally-backed mortgages will have 60 days to bring their mortgages current. Those experiencing a financial hardship due to coronavirus may also request a forbearance, which would extend the time limit of your mortgage and give you more time to pay. Those who request a forbearance could get up to 180 days extra to pay their mortgage, with the possibility of extending for an additional 180 days at the request of the borrower.
Please note that in Louisiana, sales of ALL foreclosed properties (not just those with federally-backed mortgages) have been suspended until at least April 30, due to the shelter in place order.
The Federal Housing Finance Agency, which administers Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, say you may be eligible to delay making your monthly payment for a temporary period, and even get assistance if you have trouble catching up after that period is over.
Among the benefits: You won’t incur late fees, and foreclosure and other legal proceedings will be suspended.
If you have trouble catching up at the end of this temporary relief period, additional assistance may be available, according to FHFA. You can work with your servicer to resume making a mortgage payment. Or if you need additional assistance, you can work with your servicer on other foreclosure prevention options to keep your home.
The FHFA advises that you contact your mortgage servicer (the company where you send your monthly payments) as soon as possible to let them know about your current circumstances. The telephone number and mailing address of your mortgage servicer should be listed on your monthly mortgage statement.
To visit the FHFA website and see the details, click here.
Here's a link to a blog post by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, a division of the U.S. Government, offering advice on how to proceed if you can't pay your mortgage. There's advice here on how to assess your situation and your options, and links to assistance. To read it, click here.
If none of this applies to you, you can call 232-HELP or 211 to see if there are other assistance programs available to you.
If you're homeless, there are several local agencies that offer help. Many are strained at this time because of social distancing requirements, which limit the number of beds a shelter has to offer.
If you need help with housing, you can call 232-HELP or 211 to see if there are openings or other help you can access.
Here are links to some local shelters and organizations that help the homeless: