Gov. John Bel Edwards announced today that he is requesting the Restore Louisiana Task Force to consider expanding the Homeowner Assistance Program to include all homeowners who had flood insurance during last year’s historic flooding in March and August. In addition, Gov. Edwards would like to increase grant awards to those who are already eligible for both construction work and reimbursements.
“It has been one year since last year’s floods turned so many lives upside down and tens of thousands of impacted homeowners are participating in the Restore Program. I want to make certain that the program is made available to help as many homeowners as we can,” said Gov. Edwards. “Initially, the limits were put in place because there was no guarantee that there would be enough funds available to assist homeowners with flood insurance, but as grants are being awarded and home inspections and damage assessments are being completed, it’s clear that there should be enough funds to cover additional affected households. While we can never be fast enough to be satisfied, I have said from the beginning that as more recovery dollars become available my administration would work to expand the program and benefits to help more homeowners. This is in keeping with that promise.”
This move could benefit thousands of homeowners by expanding program eligibility and benefits. Specifically, Gov. Edwards is asking the task force to consider the following:
To date, more than 40,000 homeowners have completed the Restore survey, and more than $15 million has been awarded to over 500 homeowners. The Trump administration has noted that Louisiana moved “historically fast,” and awarded reimbursement checks to homeowners 50 days after the funds were made available to the state. Similar construction programs for disasters, such as Superstorm Sandy, took between 210 to 328 days to accomplish the same milestone.
Yesterday, Gov. Edwards and Sec. Ben Carson toured the home of Charlotte Rimes in Denham Springs. Following the visit, Sec. Carson praised the state’s flood recovery, saying he was “very impressed” with the state’s effort and “very pleased.” Both Gov. Edwards and Sec. Carson acknowledged the need to remove burdensome federal regulations that are slowing down the recovery process.
In addition, the federal government has granted Gov. Edwards’ request to reduce the requirement of overall benefit to low-to-moderate income (LMI) residents. Under Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) guidelines, the state was required to spend at least 70 percent of the allocated funds for the primary benefit of LMI residents. On August 7, 2017, HUD reduced that amount to 55 percent.
Completing the brief Restore survey is the first step in requesting help with repairs or reimbursement through the program. All flood impacted homeowners are strongly encouraged to complete it. The survey can be taken online at restore.la.gov, by telephone at (866) 735-2001 or by visiting one of the Restore Louisiana housing assistance centers in Lafayette, Hammond, Monroe and Baton Rouge.
The Restore Louisiana Task Force comprises 21 individuals from throughout the state who were appointed by Gov. John Bel Edwards to oversee the rebuilding process after historic flooding in March and August 2016 impacted 51 disaster-declared parishes. The Task Force’s mission is divided into six categories: community planning, economic, health and social services, housing, infrastructure and natural and cultural resources. All task force documents are available at http://restore.la.gov/resources/. For more information, visit restore.la.gov.