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Edwards announces new emergency rental assistance program for tenants at risk of eviction due to COVID-19

Louisiana

BATON ROUGE, La. (KTAL/KTVE/KLFY) – Gov. John Bel Edwards announced a new rental assistance program that could help certain tenants affected by COVID-19, though funds are currently limited.

The Louisiana Emergency Rental Assistance Program, which is administered and funded by the Louisiana Housing Corporation and State of Louisiana Office of Community Development, will help families who were impacted financially during the pandemic.

The program will give financial assistance to renters who are not current on their rent and/or are at imminent risk of eviction due to COVID-19. The payments will be paid directly to the landlord.

According to the Governor’s Office, the first phase of the program will be funded with $7 million from the HOME Investment Partnership Program. The next phases will be funded by $5 million in Community Development Block Grant funds and $12 million in Emergency Solutions Grant funds. All of the funding is provided to the state from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

The Louisiana Housing Corporation has partnered with Louisiana 211 to help with submitting an intake form. Renters affected by business shutdowns, closures, layoffs and reduced work hours as well as those receiving enhanced unemployment benefits are strongly encouraged to apply.

Tenants can also apply by clicking here.

After Gov. Edwards announcement of the program, HousingLOUISIANA, a statewide network of housing practitioners and advocates, issued the following statement:

We urge the public and the media to look at the data that we presented last month and carefully examine the Governor’s plan, as we will be doing, before coming to a conclusion about it.  The data we presented in June lays out a minimum of $250 Million needed for rental assistance through the end of 2020. If you compare the money spent on other programs in the battle against COVID-19, that number dwarfs what leaders have dedicated to meeting the most basic need in this crisis – ensuring everyone has a home to shelter in. And that is simply not good enough.

ANDREANECIA MORRIS, PRESIDENT, HOUSINGLOUISIANA

To read the full letter that HousingLOUISIANA sent to Gov. Edwards’ office, click here.

3 days of ‘fasting and prayer’

Edwards called for three days of fasting and prayer across Louisiana starting Monday, July 20 through Wednesday, July 22. Specifically, he called for lunch fasting across the three days, with prayer for those who are ill and those who have died.

Edwards said he was asked to lead the fast by a number of pastors statewide across a number of denominations.

Response to AG opinion on mask mandate

Edwards also had words for La. Atty. General Jeff Landry, who issued a nine-page opinion on Wednesday calling the governor’s mask mandate “likely unconstitutional and unenforceable.”

Edwards not only disagreed with Landry’s opinion, calling it “wrong on every front, actually,” he said failure to comply could also affect a business’ immunity from COVID-19 related lawsuits that the legislature has approved. The liability limitations given to business owners are contingent on their willingness to follow the CDC’s guidelines.

Edwards said his mask mandate has the full support of the White House Coronavirus Task Force, a situation made clear as federal officials — including U.S. Vice-President Mike Pence — visited Louisiana on Tuesday to discuss the state’s recent surge of COVID activity. Their specific guidance to Louisiana included a mask mandate, bar closures and a limit on gathering sizes — all things handled under Monday’s mandate.

Ultimately, Edwards said his authority as governor of Louisiana, especially under a time of an emergency declaration is binding in this situation.

The number of confirmed COVID-19 cases statewide rose by 2,280 on Thursday with another 25 deaths reported, bringing the total number of cases statewide to 86,411 and 3,375 deaths.

Thursday’s briefing came after Vice President Mike Pence and members of the White House Taskforce visited Baton Rouge on Tuesday as Louisiana continues to deal will rising virus cases and hospital capacity concerns.

During the visit, Pence and Education Secretary Betsy DeVos took the opportunity to call for students at every level from elementary school through college to return to classrooms, with Pence calling that critical to reopening the country.

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