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New state program provides renter and landlord assistance



MONROE, La. – A new state program is helping renters and landlords due to the pandemic. It uses federal COVID money to help with payments caused by COVID hardships.

The program was announced by the governor today. Louisiana got $161 million dollars in federal money which goes to 57 parishes.

Eligible Louisiana renters and landlords can now request financial help through the state’s emergency rental assistance program.

Danielle Owens, a regional property manager, says it’s been hard on tenants across the region.

“COVID and the effects that it had has been detrimental on people. There are residents that live here and other places in any rental community that have lost jobs or have lost a tremendous amount of wages so it’s affecting their payment,” Owens said.

The program will help cover past-due rent dating back to April of 2020 and up to three months in future rent.

Landlords, like Scooter Howell, say it’ll help since some renters have been taking advantage of the situation which is costing him money.

“Luckily, we have enough good tenants to outweigh the bad in this situation,” Howell said. “We’ve got some tenants though that are working the system, and it’s not fair. They’re still getting the same if not more on their unemployment money. They’re still not paying us because they signed the form at the courthouse saying they lost their job due to COVID. Well, they’re making more at home on unemployment than they would be at their job.”

The program gives the option for renters to apply. Landlords can apply on behalf of a tenant, but they have to accept conditions like not evicting a tenant for 60 days after the assistance ends, forgiving late fees, penalties, interest and court costs.

“When did we the CDC and the moratorium, they didn’t think this out because they only thought about one side,” Owens said. “They didn’t think about the owners. On that side, because they’re not getting paid they’re losing income. They have mortgages. They have insurance payments that are not being forgiven or forgotten. It’s a hardship for them as well.

To qualify, you must prove your COVID hardship, and there’s a list of requirements.

Louisiana renters may be eligible for assistance from the state-administered program if they meet all of the following criteria:

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