The Louisiana Legislative Session came to a close Monday after a long spring that included some unfortunate setbacks, as well as a significant win for Louisiana renting families.
New Renter Protections Pass the Finish Line!
Passing new protections for people who were illegally evicted was LaFHAC’s top priority at the legislature this session, and HB 160 by Rep. Mandie Landry received unanimous support in committees and on the House and Senate floor with the help of emotional testimony from renters like Ben Toups of Houma. This bipartisan legislation picked up nearly every representative from Terrebonne and Lafourche parishes as coauthors, including Reps. Tanner Magee, Jerome Zeringue, Beryl Amedee, Bryan Fontenot, and Joe Orgeron. Sen. Jeremy Stine of Lake Charles also led the effort to pass the bill in the Senate.
This new legislation creates penalties for landlords who illegally evict tenants and gives renters increased protections after surviving deadly storms. Those new protections include: 1) ensuring that evacuating
from the path of a deadly storm can’t be counted as evidence that a renter “abandoned” their apartment, and 2) waiving the expensive bonds that renters have to put up to file an injunction to stop an illegal
eviction. To read more, see our press release here and news coverage here.
LGBTQ Protections Earn Historical Vote
HB 303 by Rep. Aimee Freeman, which would have added protections for LGBTQ people into state fair housing law, did not pass off of the House floor, but it did make history with a recorded House vote on
LGBTQ rights. The bill gained the support of a full third of House members, including several Republicans and all Independents. LaFHAC is committed to working with Rep. Freeman to bring this bill
every year until it passes. Please follow the work of our friends at LA Trans Advocates and Forum for Equality and support their crucial work to advocate, organize, and educate for equality in Louisiana.
Fair Chance in Housing Faced Fierce Opposition
Rep. Matt Willard’s Fair Chance in Housing bill (HB 1063) was defeated in the Senate Commerce Committee after consistent opposition from the realtor and apartment association lobbies. The bill would have required landlords to notify applicants that they could offer additional information about any experience they may have had with the criminal legal system. We will continue to work to affirm that people returning home after incarceration shouldn’t be sentenced to a life of homelessness.
A House Study Resolution to Investigate Rising Homelessness
LaFHAC worked closely with our friends at Louisiana Budget Project on their Recovery Agenda for Louisiana, advocating for the state to invest federal American Rescue Plan dollars in stabilizing families and reducing homelessness. The plan to use one-time funding to build deeply affordable housing and emergency shelters to meet both immediate and long-term housing needs ultimately was not included in
the state budget. Thankfully, Rep. Jason Hughes supported our efforts by introducing and passing HR194, which requests the Louisiana Housing Corporation to study the rising number of homeless individuals in Louisiana, the lack of affordable housing, and to identify potential funding sources to address these issues. This reporting will document the impacts of COVID and Hurricanes Laura, Delta and Ida on housing in Louisiana, and will hopefully compel the legislature to fund much needed emergency housing and shelter resources.
Finally, we could not have made this progress and raised awareness with legislators without your dedicated support and action. Join our mailing list to stay engaged and involved.