Edwards: Rental assistance available to some tenants starting today; calls for three days of prayer and fasting

Coronavirus

UPDATE: Gov. John Bel Edwards announced a new rental assistance program that could help certain tenants affected by COVID-19, though funds are currently limited. He also called for three days of fasting and prayer, and responded to an opinion issued by La. Atty. General Jeff Landry on Wednesday.

RENTAL ASSISTANCE

Louisiana Housing Corporation Executive Director Keith Cunningham explained some of the details of the program, which he said will go into effect today. Tenants can begin the process of applying today by visiting louisianarenthelp.com or calling 211 to apply by phone.

To be eligible, tenants must:

  • Rent an apartment or house in Louisiana
  • Have a valid and current written lease signed by the landlord
  • Have lost income because of COVID-19
  • Be at risk of being evicted
  • Income is at or below 30% of the Area Median Income (AMI)

Income requirements range from $13,500 for one person to $25,450 for eight persons.

Cunningham said there were some who would not be eligible for assistance, including those already receiving government rental assistance and those in public housing. Those who are eligible should move quickly because funding is first-come, first served.

Edwards said the state has been promised up to $24 million in assistance, though currently, only the first $7 million is available.

Cunningham said recipients could be eligible for assistance with up to three months of back rent owed an up to three months of rental assistance going forward. Monies will not be made available to tenants, but will instead go directly to landlords. Cunningham recommended that tenants be in constant communication with their landlords.

For more information, visit louisianarenthelp.com.

PERIOD OF ‘FASTING AND PRAYER’

Edwards called for three days of fasting and prayer across Louisiana starting Monday, July 20 through Wednesday, July 22. Specifically, he called for lunch fasting across the three days with prayer for those who are ill and those who have died.

Edwards said he was asked to lead the fast by a number of pastors statewide across a number of denominations.

RESPONSE TO JEFF LANDRY

Edwards also had words for La. Atty. General Jeff Landry, who issued a nine-page opinion on Wednesday calling the governor’s mask mandate “likely unconstitutional and unenforceable.”

Edwards not only disagreed with Landry’s opinion, calling it “wrong on every front, actually,” he said failure to comply could also affect a business’ immunity from COVID-19 related lawsuits that the legislature has approved. The liability limitations given to business owners are contingent on their willingness to follow the CDC’s guidelines.

Edwards said his mask mandate has the full support of the White House Coronavirus Task Force, a situation made clear as federal officials — including U.S. Vice-President Mike Pence — visited Louisiana on Tuesday to discuss the state’s recent surge of COVID activity. Their specific guidance to Louisiana included a mask mandate, bar closures and a limit on gathering sizes — all things handled under Monday’s mandate.

Ultimately, Edwards said his authority as governor of Louisiana, especially under a time of an emergency declaration is binding in this situation.

ORIGINAL POST: BATON ROUGE, La. (KLFY)- Gov. John Bel Edwards will hold a press conference Thursday to address Louisiana’s response to COVID-19.

Edwards was joined by Vice President Mike Pence and members of the White House Taskforce on Tuesday as Louisiana continues to deal will rising virus cases and hospital capacity concerns.

Thursday’s briefing is scheduled to begin at 2:30 p.m.

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