Louisiana COVID-19 Rental Assistance Program Suspended After 4 Days Due to Overwhelming Demand

By Ivan Pentchoukov
Ivan Pentchoukov
Ivan Pentchoukov
Ivan is the national editor of The Epoch Times. He has reported for The Epoch Times on a variety of topics since 2011.
July 20, 2020Updated: July 20, 2020

An emergency rental program in Louisiana was temporarily suspended on July 19 until further notice due to overwhelming demand, according to a notice posted on the Louisiana Housing Corporation website

“Due to overwhelming response, the Louisiana Emergency Rental Assistance Program application process has been temporarily suspended,” the notice stated, inviting visitors to sign up to receive an update when the program restarts.

The program was meant to provide emergency assistance to Louisiana residents at imminent risk of eviction due to financial hardships brought on by the stay-at-home restrictions enacted in an attempt to stop the spread of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) virus, commonly known as the coronavirus.

Eligible residents would receive a lump-sum payment sent to their landlords or management companies. The amount of the assistance depended on income eligibility.

More than 40,000 residents applied for the Louisiana Emergency Rental Assistance Program (LERAP) since it was launched on July 16, even though the program was only funded to assist 10,000 people, according to a press release from the Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards’ office. 

“The response to our state’s emergency rental assistance program proves how significant the economic burden of COVID-19 is for our citizens,” Edwards said in a statement. 

“This program was designed to help mitigate and off-set evictions and homelessness, and while we have allocated an additional $17 million for a total of $24 million in federal assistance, we know that much more is needed to address this serious crisis for the hard-working men and women who continue to keep our state going during this crisis.”

The governor’s office said the program will reopen once additional funds are available. LERAP is funded entirely with federal taxpayer dollars from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). Of the $24 million total, $7 million is currently available, with the rest of the money expected to arrive in phases.

The governor’s office did not immediately respond to a request to explain how the Louisiana Housing Corporation (LHC) will select which 10,000 of the 40,000 applications to approve or when the program is expected to relaunch.

“We know there are many individuals and families whose lives have been upended by this pandemic and that there is a great sense of urgency for housing assistance,” E. Keith Cunningham, Jr., the executive director of LHC, said in a statement. 

“As the state’s housing agency, we are committed to doing everything we can to meet the needs of renters and landlords and are hopeful that additional federal dollars will become available as soon as possible.”