BATON ROUGE, La. (BRPROUD) — The East Baton Rouge Emergency Rental Program will provide additional funding to struggling renters.

After many people lost their jobs and hours due to COVID-19, the people reached out to the city for help. The City-Parish has received nearly 15,000 applications for renters and utility assistance.

“So there was a rise in tenants that could not pay their rent,” says Director of Community and Urban Development of City-Parish Baton Rouge Tasha Saunders.

The City-Parish approved $43,136,762.09 in payments for tenants and landlords. Currently, $36,259,879 has been disbursed. The Emergency Rental Assistance Program is a community-based program that is currently supported by five nonprofit organizations: YWCA, UREC, Mid-City Redevelopment Alliance, Habitat for Humanity, and Project 70805.

That work in conjunction with one another and the City-Parish efficiently serves applicants, implement best practices, and offer a list of following services:

  • A strike team to quickly address escalated and high-priority cases such as constituent services and tenants on eviction dockets.
  • A field team to assist applicants in person at local libraries and at tenant locations.
  • A dedicated landlord point of contact to manage landlord communications and provide onsite assistance to tenants and landlords alike.
  • An established, reliable Call Center that is accessible via phone, text, and email.  
  • A website that is kept up to date with program announcements, helpful checklists, and FAQs.
  • An eviction diversion program administered in partnership with Southeast Legal Services provides assistance to tenants facing eviction and serves as the primary liaison to City Court. 

As of right now, the program has processed 8,978 of the 14,383 applications received. Applications were closed on January 7, 2022, due to the limitation of funds based on the average case approvals seen. 

The special meeting agenda items were to accept $33,339,185.74 from the U.S. Treasury, as well as increase the City-Parish payment processing partner Workforce Group’s contract from $4,187,478.08 to $14,192,850.62. It is important to note this is not new funding, rather a reallocation of undisbursed state funds, originally intended for reimbursement, that was moved from the state back to the treasury.

“We did approve a few million today to increase the amount of people we’re able to help,” said District 7 Councilmember LaMont Cole.

The Metro Council has requested to expedite this matter so that the Office of Community Development is allowed to rapidly deploy these funds to households in need once budgets are then approved on Wednesday, March 23, 2022.

For an application click here.