Today, Gov. John Bel Edwards and Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Secretary Ben Carson met to discuss Louisiana’s ongoing recovery from the March 2016 and August 2016 historic floods.  Yesterday, Gov. Edwards and Sec. 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.

Today, Gov. Edwards reiterated his requests to have HUD eliminate the duplication of benefits issue that has arisen for homeowners who qualified for Small Business Administration (SBA) loans in the immediate aftermath of the floods.   Under the federal regulations, homeowners who were approved for the loans, whether they used any of it or not, are limited in the amount of assistance they can receive from the RESTORE homeowner program because the entire approved loan amount is considered a duplication of benefits. Gov. Edwards also asked Sec. Carson to work with the state to eliminate the site-specific environmental reviews that are eating up costs that could otherwise be used for homeowners.  Gov. Edwards and. Sec. Carson agreed to continue working together on Louisiana’s flood recovery.

During the meeting, Gov. Edwards presented Sec. Carson with a letter outlining issues related to flood recovery. The letter is available here.

On October 10, 2016, Gov. Edwards requested that HUD waive the site-specific, federally-required environmental reviews for the recovery program.  At the average cost of $1,250 per site-specific environmental inspection, the environmental review price tag for single family home repairs could top $80 million, or 5 percent of the funding allocated to the state. Gov. Edwards reiterated that request to then Secretary-designee Ben Carson and President Donald Trump in February 2017, upon taking office.

In February 2017, Gov. Edwards requested that the Louisiana congressional delegation make changes to the laws governing disaster recovery, including the duplication of benefits.  The request to the delegation is available upon request.

FACTS about the Recovery:

  • More than 18,000 Louisiana homeowners were approved for Small Business Administration (SBA) loans and are now unlikely to receive CDBG funding to complete their recovery. 
  • To date, more than 500 awards have been given to homeowners for a total of more than $15 million.  The first check from the RESTORE LA Homeowner program was awarded 50 days after the funds were made available to the state (April 10, 2017).  No previous disaster construction program has awarded funds in that amount of time. Similar construction programs for disasters, such as Superstorm Sandy, took between 210 to 328 days to accomplish the same milestone.
  • The initial guidelines from HUD required the state to spend 70 percent of the funds allocated on low-to-moderate income homeowners.  However, Gov. Edwards requested a waiver of this requirement, which was granted on August 7, 2017.  The waiver is outlined in the federal notice published on that date and available here