Criticism after city rolls out strict, $1M housing assistance program

Updated: Jul. 27, 2020 at 9:01 PM CDT
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NEW ORLEANS, La. (WVUE) - With every passing day, housing advocates grow more concerned as the rent notices stack up.

“Conservative estimates tell us we need at least $60 million to get New Orleanians who are struggling or facing evection to be in the clear, so this would be a drop in the bucket,” said Housing NOLA’s Andreanecia Morris.

Back in April, the city of New Orleans rolled out a housing assistance program that helped around one thousand people get caught up on their rent, keeping them in their homes during a worldwide pandemic.

Morris says several months later, the price tag continues to rise.

“Now we’re talking five or six months of rent which will reduce the number of people you can help,” she said.

The city is again taking applications to help those facing immediate eviction. But with only one million dollars in federal funds available, housing directors say they know not everyone will receive the help they need.

“We have a lot of people who are very concerned and very afraid that they will be displaced, we received about 340 applications today alone,” said Marjorianna Willman, with the Office of Housing Policy and Community Development.

Willman estimates they’ll only be able to help about 200 of those applications, which is why they tightened the parameters for those needing help.

“What we’re doing is we’re triaging we tightened our net a little bit and what we’re trying to do is people who are really an eminent threat of eviction,” said Willman.

She says they know with limited funds, families will be disappointed. But seeing as this is a federal crisis, she says they’re continually trying to fight for funds for New Orleanians, but this is done bit by bit.

“It doesn’t stop us from trying so even though we know the need far exceeds the amount of funds available we’re still trying and we’re still trying to get more funds,” said Willman.

Housing advocates say that’s the problem, what’s needed is a comprehensive program to help everyone all at once as opposed to a little bit at a time. “

New Orleans we are going to need to take the city out of this hole much like they did almost a few years ago with Katrina, those same folks are facing displacement again are facing devastation again and again we’re being failed by every level of government,” said Morris.

The city will consider those applicants who have lost their job due to Covid-19 and are facing homelessness in the next 30 days.

They’ll consider households with children, disabled, elderly, or households with underlying medical conditions.

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