“They’ve been hit pretty hard,” landlords look to federal aid to pay for missed rent

NOLA Rental Assistance

NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - A group representing thousands of local landlords says with the latest stimulus package, property owners finally expect to see direct financial relief.

“They’ve been hit pretty hard,” said Tammy Esponge, an executive with the Apartment Association of Greater New Orleans and Louisiana.

Esponge says she recently surveyed members within the group, of those who responded, they tell her collectively they have lost at least a million dollars in rent loss in the past year.

“We’re being asked to give away our product but we’re not getting any assistance to help offset the costs we have,” Esponge said.

As the pandemic raged on last year, a number of moratoriums were issued, allowing millions to stay in their homes as they filed for unemployment. According to the Census Bureau about 10 million Americans are on unemployment.

“Pre-COVID, over 60 percent of renters were struggling pre-COVID,” said Andreanecia Morris, executive director for HousingNOLA, a nonprofit promoting affording housing. “So, renters have always been very vulnerable here in New Orleans.”

Esponge says while most property owners worked with residents last year, putting them on payment plans or understanding their predicament, she says there was hardly any federal aid for property owners.

But Esponge says, the latest two stimulus packages should help.

“This is the first time in the last year landlords have received any type of assistance at all,” she said. “This is not direct assistance to the landlord. this is an effort upon the renter and the landlord.”

Morris says under the American Rescue Plan, both landlords and tenants have to work together to get any federal aid. For an example, Esponge says, property owners have to show proof a tenant did not pay rent and a renter has to prove they could pay.

“The desired strategy is that they work together,” Morris said. “That’s what we want. We absolutely want them to work together. They need cooperation with each other so that their payments aren’t held up.”

Esponge says it is money property owners can use to pay their bills, “we still have mortgages, we have overhead, we have maintenance, we have supplies, we have taxes,” she said. “We didn’t get any relief on any of that. This is really going to help our landlords.”

The state will get most of the rental assistance funding but due to population sizes, 8 Louisiana municipalities should receive direct assistance: Jefferson, Orleans, Baton Rouge, East Baton Rouge, City of Baton Rouge, Calcasieu, Cato, St. Tammany and Lafayette.

Here’s how to find out more information on the state’s rental assistance program: https://www.lastaterent.com/

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