Edwards announces new statewide rental assistance program

    BRIEF

    Louisiana renters and landlords who are struggling financially can now apply for rental assistance from the state’s newest rental assistance program.

    On Friday, Gov. John Bel Edwards announced the launch of the state’s latest new program, funded by the COVID-19 relief package passed by Congress at the end of 2020 that allocated $309 million to struggling renters and landlords in Louisiana.

    “We know many Louisiana renters are in jeopardy of eviction due to financial circumstances as a result of the current pandemic, and we want to prevent that,” said Edwards in the release. “At the same time, we know many rental property owners are also being impacted. This program is designed to help provide much needed relief to both landlords and renters during this challenging time.”

    The program will “focus on paying rental arrears, or past-due rent, and up to three months of future rent for eligible applicants,” according to the release. Households that earn less than half of the area median income and households where someone had lost their job for more than 90 days will be prioritized.

    To be eligible for rental assistance, a Louisiana renter must:

    • “qualify or previously qualified for unemployment benefits, or experienced an income reduction or other financial hardship due to COVID-19.”
    • “are not currently on rent payments or at risk of eviction.”
    • Have “a total household income at or below 80 percent of the area median income.”

    Landlords can also apply on their tenant’s behalf. To be eligible, a landlord must: 

    • not evict a tenant for at least 60 days after the assistance ends 
    • must forgive late fees, penalties, interest and court costs.

    The program has a budget of $161 million for renters and landlords in 57 Louisiana parishes. Meanwhile renters and landlords in Caddo, Calcasieu, East Baton Rouge, Jefferson, Lafayette, Orleans and St. Tammany parishes have to apply for rental assistance locally, as those parishes “received direct allocations from the U.S. Treasury to administer their own programs,” a spokesperson from the Louisiana Housing Corporation told the Illuminator.

    Renters “affected by business shutdowns, closures, layoffs and reduced work hours as well as those receiving enhanced unemployment benefits are strongly encouraged to apply,” according to the release.

    To learn more or to apply for the state program, tenants and landlords can visit www.LAStateRent.com.