Eviction moratorium extended until March, you must apply to receive protections

Published: Jan. 22, 2021 at 5:04 PM CST|Updated: Jan. 22, 2021 at 7:53 PM CST
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ALEXANDRIA, La. (KALB) - The Louisiana Fair Housing Action Center is pushing for Louisiana families to apply for rental protections as the coronavirus pandemic rages on.

Hours after his inauguration, President Biden issued an executive order authorizing the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to extend its federal moratorium on eviction for non-payment of rent by two months. The protections now last until March 31.

“This was an important step that we know would protect around 140,000 Louisiana families at risk of losing their homes,” Cashauna Hill, Executive Director of The Louisiana Fair Housing Action Center said.

Hill said families can still face evictions for other reasons besides non-payment. She said if any renter is experiencing hardships should contact their landlord.

“It’s really important for renters to let their landlords know that they are having difficulties paying their rent or they can’t pay their rent,” Hill said.

Renters must opt-in for protections under the moratorium.

“Renters have to fill out a form. They have to attest that they make less than a certain amount of money,” she said. “They have to confirm that their hours have been cut or they lost their job, or that some sort of financial hardship has happened that is negatively impacting their ability to pay their rent.”

Hill believes the moratorium is only a temporary fix. She favors providing cash relief to renters and landlords to handle their negative balances.

“What we’re doing now is a sort of pause on collecting those payments,” she said. “Once the moratorium does end, people will still be on the hook for those very large rent debts.”

In the last stimulus package in December, Congress approved $25 billion for rental assistance. Hill said more than $300 million will go to Louisiana. She wants to see local governments distribute the money rather than a state-run program like back in July. That program shutdown mere days after becoming active because of the high need for rental aid.

“When the state has attempted to run a rental assistance program in the past, it has absolutely been way too slow to meet the need that is out there,” she said. “It is ineffective and inhumane to ask people struggling to keep a roof over their heads to have to fill out long applications in order to get this assistance.”

Hill is pushing for Governor John Bel Edwards to allow local/parish governments to distribute the aid.

“We have to get money in the hands of local governments who are better equipped to run tighter and effective programs,” she said.

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