As renters struggle to make payments, landlords struggle to pay bills

Updated: Jul. 20, 2020 at 6:45 PM CDT
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BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - Money made available through the Louisiana Housing Corporation was quickly snatched up as renters in Louisiana seek to keep a roof over their heads while many are out of work.

$24 million was set aside to assist residents in paying rent, but the program was halted after just four days, meaning only a fraction of those who needed it were able to even apply.

“Forty thousand families or so signed up for the program in just the first couple of days, which overwhelmed the program and it’s already out of money,” said Cashauna Hill, executive director for the Louisiana Fair Housing Action Center. “Every dollar counts and that $24 million was certainly appreciated, but it’s just a drop in the bucket.”

Hill says by their estimates, approximately 130,000 renters across the state are at risk of losing their homes once the existing eviction protections under the CARES Act are lifted and the increased unemployment funds run out.

“We’re going to need about $500 million in assistance for Louisiana to prevent this eviction avalanche that we’re facing,” Hill said.

If that money does not come, landlords like Floyd Campbell will be left on the hook for mounting bills that have not been paid by his tenants.

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“If we don’t get this help, we’ll have no choice but to evict them. I’ll have to put 10 to 12 families on the street ‘cause I can go with this for just so long and I run out of money, too,” Campbell said.

Campbell has 25 mobile homes he rents in West Baton Rouge Parish. He says less than half of the tenants are able to pay rent right now.

“If it wouldn’t have been for the 30 to 40 percent who are working, have good jobs, paying their rent, I would’ve already folded,” he said. “I would’ve shut down and started cleaning properties out.”

He says he’s working with the tenants to find ways for them to pay him little by little so he does not have to evict them, but at the end of the day, he still has bills he has to pay and the little that’s coming in is not cutting it.

What both he and Hill say they would like to see is more funding for programs like the emergency rent assistance. There are talks of putting more money into those programs, but there’s no timetable for when renters or landlords could see that money.

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