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Looking from the top down, a lineman works on the power lines along River Road near The Water Campus Tuesday March 16, 2021, in Baton Rouge, La. It's shocking how important electrical juice is in the scheme of things.

Louisiana is adding utility payment assistance to its state-administered, federally funded program established to help renters and landlords impacted by the coronavirus pandemic, the governor's office announced Friday. 

Renters can now submit requests for financial assistance for past-due electricity, gas, trash pick-up, fuel oils,  water and sewer bills through the state's online application portal

The program covers residents across the state, except those who live in seven parishes — including Caddo, Calcasieu, East Baton Rouge, Jefferson, Lafayette, Orleans and St. Tammany — which have their own locally administered assistance programs. 

For renters, at least one individual in the household has to have experienced significant financial hardship due directly or indirectly to COVID-19, and the combined household income must be at or below 80 percent of the area's median income. 

Both renters and landlords are eligible to apply for assistance. Priority is given to households where at least one member has been unemployed for more than 90 days due to COVID-19 and to households earning less than 50 percent of the area median income, as required by the law.

In most cases, rental assistance is provided to the landlord, and utility assistance will be paid directly to utility providers.

“As we approach the summer months, we thought it was critically important to expand the program to provide assistance to Louisianans not only struggling with their rent but also struggling to pay their utilities,” Gov. John Bel Edwards said in the press release. 

The program so far has distributed $2.6 million in rental assistance. 


Email Blake Paterson at bpaterson@theadvocate.com and follow him on Twitter @blakepater