NEW ORLEANS—Today, 54 social service agencies and advocates from across the state called on Governor John Bel Edwards to pursue all options to increase rental assistance funding, as the recently announced Louisiana Emergency Rental Assistance program ran out of money in just three days.
The $24 million allocated for the program is only a fraction of what is required as Louisiana property owners and the families who rent from them approach a cliff this fall. Throughout the pandemic, 40% or more of Louisiana renters have consistently reported that they have little to no confidence that they will make the next month’s rent payment. On July 25th, both Federal Pandemic Unemployment and the CARES Act protections against eviction will expire, leaving 130,000 rent-burdened families in our state out of work and at risk of losing their homes.
The data shows that while 27,700 families in Orleans Parish and 14,000 in East Baton Rouge Parish are at risk of being forced out of their homes, this is not just a crisis of urban centers. Rural and suburban parishes like Lafourche, Tangipahoa, Ascension, and Claiborne also contain hot spots where 20% or more of households are at risk for eviction. The Acadiana Regional Coalition on Homelessness and Housing (ARCH), one of the letter signers, has already noted that homelessness in Acadiana has nearly doubled since January, from 421 people to 789.
To prevent this catastrophe, two separate expert analyses have suggested that close to $500 million in assistance is needed. Without the extension of federal unemployment and a massive allocation of funding for landlords and renters by Congress, the responsibility will fall to the Governor and the state legislature to meet this need. So far, the legislature has failed to take the opportunity to provide any meaningful assistance to Louisiana’s renter families. Legislators also received the letter and are likely to be in session as thousands of their constituents face being forced out of their homes.
“Regardless of race or what’s in our wallets, many Louisianans have done our best to care for and support each other during this crisis, but we’re staring down a cliff that could tear our communities apart, and it’s time for our government to step in and supplement what community members are doing for one another. Just like COVID-19 and police violence, research shows the looming eviction crisis will disproportionately impact Black communities. The Governor, state legislators, and our U.S. Senators can choose to keep 130,000 Louisiana families in their homes and we desperately need them to act now,” said Cashauna Hill, Executive Director of the Louisiana Fair Housing Action Center, one of the letter’s signers.
Without the needed assistance, property owners may default on mortgages and local property taxes; renter families would lose homes, possessions, and see worse educational and health outcomes for children; and overwhelmed eviction courts are likely to pour fuel on the fire of our current COVID-19 outbreak and further damage our economy.
See the full letter here and the full list of signers below:
Acadiana Housing Alliance
Acadiana Regional Coalition on Homelessness and Housing (ARCH)
ACLU of Louisiana
Agenda for Children
Broad Community Connections, New Orleans
Center for Planning Excellence
CHANGE Coalition (Coalition of HIV & AIDS Nonprofits & Governmental Entities)
Covenant House, New Orleans
Crescent City Community Land Trust, New Orleans
D.A.R.T (Domestic Abuse Resistance Team), Ruston
Disability Rights Louisiana
Enterprise Community Partners, Inc.
Foundation for Louisiana
Home by Hand, New Orleans
HOME Coalition, Monroe
HOPE Connections of Northwest Louisiana
Housing First Alliance of the Capital Area
Institute of Women & Ethnic Studies, New Orleans
Jane Place Neighborhood Sustainability Initiative, New Orleans
Justice and Accountability Center of Louisiana
Lafayette Habitat for Humanity
Louisiana Budget Project
Louisiana Center for Children’s Rights
Louisiana Coalition Against Domestic Violence
Louisiana Coalition for Criminalization & Health
Louisiana Fair Housing Action Center
Louisiana Partnership for Children and Families
Louisiana Public Health Institute
Loyola University New Orleans College of Law – Law Clinic
Metro Centers for Community Advocacy
Mid City Redevelopment Alliance, Baton Rouge
Music and Culture Coalition of New Orleans
New Orleans Family Justice Center
Northlake Homeless Coalition
Ozanam Inn, New Orleans
Power Coalition for Equity and Justice
Providence House, Shreveport
Ride New Orleans
Safe Harbor, Mandeville
Step Up Louisiana
Total Community Action, Inc., New Orleans
UNITE HERE! Local 23
United Way of Southeast Louisiana
UNITY of Greater New Orleans
Vera Institute of Justice
Voice of the Experienced
Volunteers of America Southeast Louisiana
Voters Organized to Educate
Women With A Vision, New Orleans