Flood survey deadline is Friday

Published 4:27 am Wednesday, July 18, 2018

This Friday, July 20, is the deadline for homeowners impacted by the floods of 2016 (including the March flood that affected Washington Parish) to complete the initial homeowner survey in order to participate in the Restore Louisiana Homeowner Assistance Program.

The program will be unable to consider homeowners who have not submitted a survey by this Friday, even if the program rules are expanded.

For example, under current federal guidelines, many homeowners who have been approved for Small Business Administration loans to repair their homes whether they used all, a portion, or none of the loan, are unable to access additional assistance from the program because the SBA loan is considered a duplication of benefits (DOB). However, if Congress makes any changes to this regulation, or if there is any additional expansion of program benefits, only those homeowners who have already completed the survey will be considered.

All flood-impacted homeowners who have not taken the brief survey are strongly encouraged to complete it, even if they do not believe they will qualify for assistance or have already completed repairs. Completing the survey only takes a few minutes and is the first step in requesting help through the Restore Louisiana Homeowner Assistance Program. Those who meet the program’s eligibility requirements will be invited to submit a formal program application. It is important to note that the deadline does not apply to homeowners who have already submitted a survey or an application.

At the Restore Louisiana Task Force meeting on July 13, Task Force members unanimously approved the resolution proposed by Gov. John Bel Edwards to expand the Restore Louisiana Homeowner Assistance Program’s tiered grant reimbursement structure from 50 percent to 100 percent for all eligible homeowners in Phases 3-6. Edwards has directed the Office of Community Development (OCD) to immediately submit an action plan to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). Upon HUD approval, the program will immediately begin working to update grant calculations and contact all affected program applicants, including those who have already executed their grant agreement. No action is needed at this time on the part of homeowners who will receive the reimbursement increase.

In addition, the increased reimbursement will not jeopardize any potential assistance for homeowners who are currently unable to access help from the grant program because of SBA loans, should the program receive guidance that the loans are no longer considered a duplication. Until further notice from either Congress or HUD, Restore must continue operating under the mandated federal guidelines.

Homeowners can complete the survey at restore.la.gov or by calling 1-866-735-2001 to speak to a program representative, 8 a.m. through 6 p.m. Monday through Friday. Program representatives are also available at the Housing Assistance Centers in Hammond, Baton Rouge, Lafayette or Monroe, Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. through 5 p.m., to help homeowners complete their survey and/or application and provide information on options for repairs, reconstruction or reimbursement through the program.

To date, over 52,500 homeowners have completed the program survey and 41,875 homeowners have been invited to complete the formal application. Nearly 33,800 applications have been processed and determinations made, and more than 12,900 eligible homeowners have been offered grant awards totaling $348 million.