Housing advocates hoping for last-minute eviction moratorium extension before expiring this weekend

By: - July 30, 2021 6:44 am

The Acadiana Regional Coalition on Homelessness & Housing is “waiting with hopeful anticipation” to see if the CDC’s moratorium on evictions — which is set to expire Saturday — will get a last-minute extension to protect renters and homeowners who are behind on rental payments, Leigh Rachel, executive director of the Acadiana Regional Coalition on Homelessness & Housing said Thursday.

Parts of Louisiana have seen a 300 percent increase in evictions even with the moratorium, Rachel said, so “without the moratorium, there are very few rights for tenants when facing the crisis of evictions.”

In June, about 319,000 Louisiana renters weren’t caught up with rent payments and about 266,000 renters said they had “no confidence” in their ability to make next month’s rent. About 455,000 more renters said they only had “slight confidence” they could make next month’s rent, according to the Census Bureau’s Household Pulse Survey data.

Also in June, about 131,000 Louisiana homeowners were behind on their mortgage payments, with about 220,000 saying they had “no confidence” in their ability to make the next month’s payment and about 309,000 saying they had “slight confidence.”

“We absolutely need an extension to allow time for this latest COVID surge to get back under control, increase rates of vaccination, and distribute the millions of dollars of federal rent assistance that is available, but takes time to distribute,” Rachel said.

Louisiana was allocated $309 million in a COVID-19 relief package in December 2020 to assist struggling renters and landlords, and was allocated an additional $244 million from the American Rescue Act.

However, just $10.1 million of the total $553 million has actually been disbursed to struggling renters and landlords so far — most of which was distributed in June. Louisiana disbursed $5.9 million in June, which is 1.4 times the $4.2 million had been disbursed between January and May.

The Louisiana Housing Corporation, the state organization in charge of the programs that assist renters and homeowners, did not return multiple messages requesting comment..

Cashauna Hill, executive director of the Louisiana Fair Housing Action Center, said the state’s rental assistance programs aren’t moving quickly enough because “the state’s local actors have not lived up to their end of the bargain.”

“All of the emergency rental assistance programs at every level… need to massively increase the staffing and resources dedicated to their programs” in order to disburse the resources that renters need in a timely manner, Hill said.

“These programs are going to be judged by how many people on the wait list still end up on the street when the eviction moratorium expires,” she said.

Hill said she is also hoping for a last-minute extension of the eviction moratorium, even if it comes from the governor “to enact a state moratorium.”

“Without a ban on evictions in place, there will be more positive COVID cases and additional deaths that are fueled by families being forced to move in with other family members or friends, or seek out homeless shelters,” Hill said.

In a Friday news conference, Gov. John Bel Edwards said Louisiana had the highest growth in COVID-19 cases per capita in the country. As of Thursday, 1620 Louisianians — the highest number since January — are hospitalized due to COVID-19.

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JC Canicosa
JC Canicosa

JC Canicosa is an award-winning journalist at The Louisiana Illuminator. Canicosa has previous experience at Investigate-TV and The Loyola Maroon and earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism from Loyola University New Orleans. At Loyola, he was the senior staff writer at The Maroon and the president of the school's chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists. Off the clock, Canicosa enjoys playing basketball, watching movies and dabbling in comedy writing.