The East Baton Rouge Parish Housing Authority says nearly all of the 1,200 landlords providing affordable housing to its clients are compiling with the eviction protections that were put in place by the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act. 

The agency's chief executive officer, J. Wesley Daniels, says the stimulus package is also helping the parish's housing authority meet the increased demand it has seen from clients asking that their monthly rental obligations be significantly lowered due to job losses and reduced incomes caused by the pandemic. 

"We've been adjusting their rental rates according to the loss of income," Daniels said during a Tuesday morning teleconference with the media. "A loss of income will result in larger housing authority payments and smaller family rental obligations."

The housing authority provides affordable housing to 12,545 residents in East Baton Rouge and Iberville parishes — a majority of whom use housing choice vouchers provided by the federal Housing and Urban Development program. 

Through the voucher program, a portion of monthly rental rates are paid by the federal government while renters are responsible for a certain portion based on their income levels. 

The housing authority sent out information to its clients last month instructing them to inform them on any income losses caused by the COVID-19 pandemic so that necessary adjustments could be made to their rent.

Daniels on Tuesday couldn't provide the amount in increased supplemental payments the agency has made this month to clients who couldn't afford to pay their share, but he said the landlords leasing properties to their clients did receive their guaranteed payments from the federal government this month.

And nearly all have been willing to work with the agency's clients who are struggling to make rent due to financial troubles at this time. 

"We've have very minimal reports of landlords — like one or two — that have not compiled with the eviction bans," he said. "And we've reached out to those landlords and had conversations with them, making sure they understand what the new environment is."

The CARES Act protects tenants living in government-subsidized housing or receiving federal housing benefits from being evicted or getting charged late fees for not paying their rent until July 25. However, those protections don't extend to everyone else who could face evictions and exorbitant late fees if they don't pay their rent once courts reopen when the governor's stay-at-home order is lifted.

Daniels said the housing authority isn't issuing any more housing vouchers at this time.

"We are in contact with the congressional delegation expressing that need for additional assistance," he said. "And we may have the ability to issue more if more funding is approved at the federal level, but there is nothing solid at this point." 


Email Terry Jones at tjones@theadvocate.com