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‘Another crisis is looming,’ CDC extends eviction moratorium in covid-high areas of country

Published: Aug. 3, 2021 at 9:40 PM CDT
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NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) -Upon the federal eviction moratorium expiring, thousands were at risk of losing their homes in Louisiana.

As the delta variant rages on, the CDC is now targeting areas like Louisiana to keep evictions from exacerbating the COVID-19 pandemic.

“A lot of individuals based with their situations are saying I’m gonna be homeless,” said First City Court Deputy Chief, Ambrose Pratt.

The first city court had two days to accept dozens of failure of non-payment eviction applications, further increasing 400-plus pending applications in the city.

“These are cases that date back, I would speculate, to even as far as March 2020,” said Pratt.

First City Court Clerk, Austin Badon releasing a statement, applauding the extension saying, “I hope that new procedures are put in place to expedite direct payments to landlords for back rent and rent through October.”

“We have asked the state to work faster and releasing funds aside for New Orleans,” said city spokesperson Beau Tidwell.

Leaders from the city, state, and federal levels, along with housing advocates and beyond, encourage landlords and tenants to work together to secure rental assistance funding. But how much of that funding is available depends on location, location, location.

“The city has exhausted all of our available resources towards rental assistance with 2,500 households. We hit with treasury funding alone,” said Tidwell.

“I’m glad New Orleans is out of money. It means they helped a lot of people,” said attorney Christoph Bajewski.

Bajewski says for his landlord clients though, this means going even longer without income. He still plans to file upwards of 40 eviction applications, anticipating the CDC’s moratorium will be another legal fight.

“We are with the worst violators at this point so we’re talking about tenants who have lived there since February 2020 without paying any rent… It’s not uncommon for me to see totals approaching 20 or above $20,000 for some of these most egregious offenders,” said Bajewski.

He says while the housing crisis is a real one, there’s yet another crisis looming.

“The collection crisis, I don’t think it’s quite started but it’s coming… People need to understand this rent is still due. They still owed us money. It’s not going to go away. If they do not pay it, they will be chased for this money,” said Bajewski.

Housing NOLA’s Andreanecia Morris released a statement:

While we are relieved that the Biden Adminstration recognizes that people need more time, this doesn’t solve the problem. The hundreds of millions of dollars that have not yet been allocated in Louisiana must be dispersed. We have to guarantee housing for all to protect people from the Delta variant and to give our communities a chance to recover.

Badon says they will stop giving hearing dates for non-payment, but landlords can still proceed with evictions for other lease violations.

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