Struggling Louisiana renters could see relief in early March

Published: Feb. 23, 2021 at 6:44 PM CST|Updated: Feb. 23, 2021 at 6:46 PM CST
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ALEXANDRIA, La. (KALB) - Families across the country are struggling to make ends meet because of the coronavirus pandemic. Housing advocates say as many as 140,000 Louisiana families are at risk of eviction.

On Tuesday, Governor John Bel Edwards’ office released more information about a statewide rental assistance program. In the last stimulus package in December, Congress approved $25 billion for rental assistance. 309 million dollars will go to Louisiana families.

Shauna Sanford, Communications Director for Governor Edwards, said the state is on track to launch the program in early March. The governor is working with the Louisiana Housing Corporation (LHC) and the Office of Community Development.

Sanford said applicants eligible for the program would “receive assistance with rent money owed dating back to April 2020.” There is a 12-month cap. The program also gives struggling rent assistance paying up to three months of future rent.

Sanford also said the program does not include utility assistance, but the administration may reevaluate that depending on available funding.

“As the law requires, priority will be given to households with incomes less than 50 percent of area median income and with one or more members currently unemployed for at least 90 days,” Sanford said. “In addition, existing LERAP applicants will be reviewed and prioritized prior to accepting new applications to the state program.”

Once the program opens, Central Louisiana residents can apply to the state program through LHC.

Sanford also said Governor Edwards asked President Joe Biden and Treasury Secretary Janet Yemen “to reduce burdensome documentation requirements that have slowed other federal programs.” They hope that can speed up the process to help renters.

In addition, President Biden extended the eviction moratorium until March 31. That prevents rents from being evicted for non-payment. To qualify, people must opt-into the program.

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