Renters advocates decry the city’s efforts to disburse aid

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NEW ORLEANS— The New Orleans Renters Rights Assembly met on the steps of city hall to speak out against what they say is negligence in how the city is managing the rental assistance program.

Y.Frank Southall of the Renters Rights Assembly said, “We’ve seen how this project has not met the needs of people. There’s not enough staffing. There needs to be more organization and more order to process.”

The city’s Office of Community Development pushed back a bit today, hoping to dispel any misinformation about the program.

Majorianna Willman is Director of Housing Policy and Community Development and she said, “We received 11.6 million directly from the US Treasury and we expect to receive an additional 14 from the state. I want to make it very clear that the need far exceeds the amount of resources available.”

New Orleans has received about 10,000 applications and of that over 700 have been approved. In that number, 80% have gone to minority households, but some in the Hispanic community say that the city hasn’t gone far enough to help that community.

Through a translator, NOLA resident Santos Albarado stated, “We don’t have language access, we don’t have information access. It’s very slow for us to get the information. There is no one helping to provide information to citizens.”

However the city says they’ve now placed the applications for English, Spanish, and Vietnamese online and they’ve gotten more help to solve language barriers.

According to Willman, “We have contracted with a consultant. It’s Translator in New Orleans, Louisiana Languages. That organization is an organization that the city already had a contract with and we are using them to assist in taking those applications.”

The city also contends that by federal law, up to only 10% of the money can be used for administrative costs, thus limiting the amount of resources they can use to get the money out, but they’re doing their best.

“It is the city’s goal to get the funds out as soon as possible. Earlier in the pandemic it may have been different because of the moratoriums, but the moratoriums are right on our heels so we need the funds out as soon as possible,” said Willman.

The Office of Community Development is processing 80-100 applications weekly and they’ve made staffing adjustments to process more.

The federal eviction moratorium expires at midnight June 30th.

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