LAFAYETTE, La. (KLFY) The CEO at SMILE Community Action Agency says if rental assistance programs are going to help pay increased rental rates on behalf of tenants to landlords, then the government should require certain repairs to be made.

Craig Mathews says he has found that there are some property owners upping their rental rates but doing nothing to improve the units they rent.

“Many people are paying exorbitant and even more exorbitant rent in sub-standard units. These are units that are continuing to deteriorate, and these property owners are not making repairs.”

Mathews says the request for rent assistance from tenants has gone up at least 30 or 40 percent.

“We’re in a catch-22 because the housing stock in our area is so limited.  There are not enough units and I believe that you have irresponsible property owners who know that.  They know there is nowhere else for the tenant to go.”

He explains there is no remove for people to milk the system for financial gain.

 “You know we have a place in the eviction courtroom every Thursday for the last two and half years we’re sitting in court trying to prevent families from being on the streets.”