Process Tweaked for Louisiana’s Emergency Rental Aid Program

BATON ROUGE (AP) — The Louisiana Housing Corporation said it’s streamlined the application for emergency rental aid for people impacted by the coronavirus outbreak, trying to speed assistance for a $24 million program announced months ago that handed out little money so far.

The agency announced Wednesday that it shortened the length of the application, is allowing electronic signatures on the documents and will hold events around Louisiana to help those with limited internet access to seek the rental assistance.

“We know COVID-19 has impacted thousands of Louisianans, and emergency rental assistance is needed by many. LHC’s goal is to provide that assistance as soon as possible,” Keith Cunningham Jr., the housing corporation’s executive director, said in a statement.

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Only 160 tenants have seen money paid to their landlords, totaling about $400,000. But the Louisiana Housing Corporation said $7 million has been obligated, keeping 3,000 families from eviction even if the dollars haven’t yet been turned over to landlords.

Gov. John Bel Edwards announced in mid-July that Louisiana would offer the emergency rent assistance to low-income residents faced with eviction because their paychecks took a hit during the coronavirus outbreak. Federal dollars are financing the program.

Demand was so great — more than 40,000 renters started the application process — that the housing agency stopped accepting applications within four days.

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The governor’s office blamed federal financial restrictions and incomplete applications for the slow pace of aid.

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