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Some renters can get utilities aid

On Friday, Gov. John Bel Edwards announced the expansion of the state of Louisiana’s U.S. Treasury Emergency Rental Assistance Program to include utility assistance. The program focuses on providing financial assistance to Louisiana renters and landlords experiencing financial hardship as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. With the expansion, the state-administered program now provides assistance for past-due rent and utility fees dating back to April of 2020, as well as future rent for eligible applicants.

As of Thursday, May 6, more than 13,000 renters had begun applications for the state-administered program, and $2.6 million in rental assistance had been approved. The application period remains open and now allows for renters to submit requests for assistance in paying past-due utilities and home energy costs, which includes electricity, gas, water and sewer, trash removal and fuel oil.

“As we approach the summer months, we thought it was critically important to expand the program to provide assistance to Louisianans not only struggling with their rent but also struggling to pay their utilities,” Edwards said. “Despite Louisiana’s great strides in vaccination efforts, many people still need help. Just like we encourage all Louisianans to get vaccinated, I strongly urge all renters and landlords struggling due to the financial impacts of COVID-19 to seek assistance through this program.”

Louisiana’s Office of Community Development, in partnership with the Louisiana Housing Corporation, first launched the U.S. Treasury Emergency Rental Assistance-State Program March 5 in 57 parishes. Seven jurisdictions with populations over 200,000 applied for and received direct allocations from the U.S. Treasury and are administering their own programs. Residents in Caddo, Calcasieu, East Baton Rouge, Jefferson, Lafayette, Orleans and St. Tammany parishes must apply directly to the program in their parish. More information can be found at www.lastaterent.com.

Louisiana renters may be eligible for assistance from the state-administered program if they meet all of the following criteria:

  • Renter resides in a rental unit in one of 57 parishes covered by state-administered program.
  • At least one individual in the household qualified for unemployment benefits or experienced a reduction in household income, incurred significant costs, or experienced other financial hardship due directly or indirectly to COVID-19.

Renter has received a past-due rent notice, a past-due utility notice, an eviction notice or is experiencing housing instability.

  • Renter’s total household income is at or below 80 percent of the area median income.

Both renters and landlords are eligible to apply for assistance. Priority is given to households where at least one member has been unemployed for more than 90 days due to COVID-19 and to households earning less than 50 percent of the area median income, as required by the law. In most cases, rental assistance is provided to the landlord, and utility assistance will be paid directly to utility providers.

To learn more or to apply for the state program, tenants and landlords can visit online at www.lastaterent.com. For questions about the program or assistance with the application process, renters or landlords can call 877-459-6555, Monday through Friday between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. To attend an application assistance event scheduled near you, visit www.lastaterent.com/events.