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Louisiana suspends emergency rent assistance program after 40,000 apply

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Posted at 5:56 PM, Jul 19, 2020
and last updated 2020-07-19 18:57:34-04

BATON ROUGE, La. -- Louisiana officials said Sunday they have suspended an emergency rent assistance program to help those hurt by the COVID-19 economic slowdown because they were quickly overwhelmed with applicants.

They said more than 40,000 people had begun the application process in less than four days. The Louisiana Housing Corporation had estimated it had enough money to help about 10,000 tenants, with money paid directly to landlords.

The Corporation had set aside $24 million of federal money for the program and says it will try to find more money after the flood of applications.

When the program was announced Thursday, housing advocates said it was a good start, but was far too little money, especially with the $600-per-week federal unemployment payments expiring at the end of the month.

“The response to our state’s emergency rental assistance program proves how significant the economic burden of COVID-19 is for our citizens,” Democratic Gov. John Bel Edwards said in a statement.

COVID-19 Precautions

Most patients with COVID-19 have mild to moderate symptoms. However, in a small proportion of patients, COVID-19 can lead to more severe illness, including death, particularly among those who are older or those who have chronic medical conditions.

COVID-19 spreads primarily through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes.

Symptoms include fever, cough, and difficulty breathing. Symptoms appear within 14 days of being exposed to an infectious person.

Virginia health officials urged the following precautions:

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
  • Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer only if soap and water are not available.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve (not your hands) when coughing or sneezing.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.
  • Stay home when you are sick.
  • Avoid contact with sick people.
  • Avoid non-essential travel.