Residents of This City May Be in Line for More Stimulus Aid

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  • Many New Orleans residents were hit hard by the pandemic.
  • City officials are working to make rental assistance funds available to those who need them.

Talk about good news for those who are struggling.

A lot of people saw their financial situations change for the worse in the course of the pandemic. And residents of New Orleans are no exception. As was the case in much of the country, many renters in New Orleans fell behind on their housing payments during the pandemic. And the fear is that those unable to catch up could face eviction.

The good news is that the two most recent federal stimulus bills allocated billions of dollars to rental assistance funds. That money was then distributed to states to coordinate applications and disbursement.

Some states and cities have done a better job than others of making rental assistance funds available. But now, city officials in New Orleans are taking steps to make sure that those entitled to rental assistance get the lifeline they need.

Ramping up on aid

During the pandemic, unemployment soared in Louisiana, as it did in many states. And workers who lost their jobs and didn't have savings to fall back on may have easily gotten behind on their rent.

Now New Orleans is working to make sure people entitled to rental assistance funds get that money. In late January, the Mayor’s Office of Housing Policy and Community Development announced plans to partner with The Workforce Group, LLC, to assist with the distribution of rent relief money. The city's goal is to make sure the additional $37 million it received for rental assistance gets into the right hands.

Previously, the city had partnered with the Housing Authority of New Orleans to disburse rent relief payments. And thanks to that collaboration, New Orleans outperformed other localities and some states in getting that money into the hands of those who needed it.

Now that the city has more funding to work with, it's taking an even more aggressive approach to distributing it in an effort to avert a widespread eviction crisis. Specifically, the city is looking to target not only residents who never got aid, but those who are entitled to a second round of assistance.

The city is also working with renters who have already received eviction notices to get them caught up on their payments. In fact, the city is contacting landlords directly in an attempt to resolve delinquent accounts rather than go through the court proceedings associated with evictions.

It's this very intervention that could spare both landlords and tenants a lot of trouble. For landlords, the eviction process can be costly. For tenants, it can result in homelessness. By avoiding it, everyone wins.

Will more cities ramp up rental assistance?

It's great to see New Orleans stepping up to get rent relief funds out to those who need it. Unfortunately, though, renters all over the country continue to face eviction because they haven't yet gotten the aid they're entitled to. The hope is that more cities will follow New Orleans' lead in this regard and work to prevent a widespread homelessness crisis.

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