Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards (Photo by Wes Muller/LA Illuminator).
Days after Gov. John Bel Edwards said he couldn’t instill a statewide eviction moratorium despite demands from U.S. Rep. Troy Carter (D-New Orleans) and housing advocates that he take decisive action, the governor praised President Joe Biden’s administration for implementing a new 60-day federal moratorium on evictions that will apply to most (if not all) of Louisiana.
A previous eviction moratorium issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention expired July 31, and, as Carter pointed out in a letter to Edwards, 267,943 Louisianians report being behind on their housing payments. Edwards said he could not put in a statewide moratorium because “he does not believe he would have the authority to do so,” his office’s spokesperson said. Carter and housing advocates said he does have such authority. Cashauna Hill, an attorney who serves as the executive director of the Louisiana Fair Housing Action Center, pointed out that in May 2020, the governor extended a moratorium on evictions.
But the news Tuesday that the CDC has created a new prohibition on evicting renters behind on their payments essentially eased some of the political pressure on Edwards. The new CDC guidelines are to apply in counties with high or substantial rates of community COVID-19 transmission, or places with more than 50 COVID-19 cases per 100,000 residents. More than 80% of U.S. counties meet that threshold, and 62 of the 64 parishes in Louisiana are listed by the state as being at “highest risk” of COVID-19 transmission.
In Wednesday’s press release praising the new federal moratorium, Edwards wrote that “as we combat this deadly new surge in COVID-19 cases, we are grateful for the additional time extended to those who are still struggling to remain in their homes during the pandemic.”
Louisiana, which has one of the country’s lowest vaccination rates, had more new cases of COVID-19 this week than any other state in the country. Louisiana also has 2,247 patients hospitalized due to COVID-19, an all time high since the pandemic began.
Edwards also encouraged renters and landlords who hadn’t already done so to apply for rental assistance through the state. Renters can receive rental assistance for past-due rent dating back to April 2020 and up to three months of future rent through the Louisiana Emergency Rental Assistance program.
Those looking to apply can go to www.LAStateRent.com or call 877.459.6555 between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.
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