Caddo Parish Administration addresses concerns with rental assistance program

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CADDO PARISH, La. (KTAL/KMSS) – The Caddo Parish Administration is addressing concerns from citizens who are calling out its rental assistance program selection and lengthy delays in receiving assistance.

Caddo Parish has received more than $14 million from the federal government for its rental assistance program, but some people are still being evicted.

Erica Bryant, who is the Caddo Parish’s Assistant Administrator, says people who are eligible for the program will have to wait.

“If someone is eligible for the program, they will receive assistance. It’s just a matter of when,” said Bryant.

The Rental Assistance program was designed to help people who have been impacted by the pandemic. However, during Thursday’s Caddo Commission meeting people came forward to express concerns as eviction notices have already been handed out and families were already evicted.

“Some people were having issues with how long it may take for others compared to someone else. Some applicants may get assistance sooner than others based on their prioritization system. And that system has a lot to do with whether or not you were unemployed if you’re employed now, what’s your income now, what was your income previously and etc,” said Bryant.

Bryant says so far, they have received over a thousand applicants and have assisted over six hundred.

“600 may not seem like a lot to some people but there is a process everyone has to go through and that process takes time.”

Based on the data provided, Caddo Parish has given out more than 30 percent of funds to families, making it the second-most of any parish in Louisiana.

Bryant also says understanding the prioritization system will allow citizens to have a better understanding of the distribution process.

“There are four priorities we put applicants in. That first priority is whether or not you were unemployed and have a certain amount of income. Or you were employed or you had a certain amount of income. So you have both in the first priority, one of the other in the second priority. And the third one would be that you’re already a renter that received previous rental assistant through the state and the fourth would be all other applicants.”

We asked what is next for the families who have been evicted and who has since been denied.

“They can re-apply if they feel like their reason for denial was inaccurate or some other issues. It is designed to help the neediest first, based on certain criteria. I know a person who may need the help may say ‘ I need the help and I need the help now’ but based on treasury guidelines they may dem ‘yes you may need help but this person needs help quicker.”

Based on the amount of money provided by the treasurer and another allocation of funds she said they should be able to help all families who are eligible for the next three to four years.

“If you are living with someone and not paying rent you wouldn’t necessarily need assistance at that point, but if you’re still in your place that you’re renting and you’re behind on your rent and you meet the qualifications we can provide you assistance,” said Bryant.

She and other members of the commission are working on another Emergency Rental Assistant Program, that would it make it more accessible for families to get assistance. That program is still in the works and won’t be available until the fund from the previous program runs out.

Those who are still in need of assistance can go here.

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