FAQs

Program Awards and Benefits

Program Eligibility and Overview

Q: Who is funding the Restore Louisiana Homeowner Assistance Program?

In 2016, after Gov. John Bel Edwards sought federal flood recovery funding for Louisiana, Congress provided three appropriations of Community Development Block Grant-Disaster Recovery funds for nationwide recovery from several disasters. These funds were allocated by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to various states. HUD allocated $437.8 million from the first appropriation, $1.2 billion from the second appropriation and $51 million from the third appropriation to Louisiana. The Restore Louisiana Homeowner Assistance Program is administered by the state Office of Community Development, Disaster Recovery Unit.

Q: Where can I find eligibility requirements?

For more information on eligibility, please visit restore.la.gov/recovery-assistance/homeowner-assistance/do-i-qualify/

Q: Does having flood insurance prevent me from taking part in the homeowner assistance program?

No, it does not. The Restore Louisiana Task Force approved an expansion to include all homeowners with structural flood insurance on August 18, 2017. For more information please visit our “Do I Qualify?” page.

Q: I lost the contents of my home in the flood. Will the Restore Louisiana Homeowner Assistance Program be able to help with these expenses?

The Program is not able to cover the costs to replace the contents of a home.

Q: Does the Restore Louisiana Homeowner Assistance Program provide assistance to homeowners who need to elevate their homes?

Elevations will be evaluated on a case-by-case basis. Elevations will be considered in the following circumstances:

  • Properties located within the floodplain that are required to be elevated by local ordinance and the local code enforcement officials’ determination that a property is substantially damaged or will be substantially improved; or
  • Properties outside of the floodplain which are required to be elevated by local ordinance as part of a reconstruction.

If local code, ordinance or code enforcement official requires elevation of a home and that home has a slab-on-grade foundation, the only option for assistance under the Program will be reconstruction with elevation. The Program will not elevate slab-on-grade structures.

Q: What is the Homeowner Assistance Program process?

The Homeowner Assistance Program process consists of six steps for eligible homeowners (determined after submission of the program survey). While the timeline for this process may vary from homeowner to homeowner based on a number of factors, Restore Louisiana is committed to working as quickly and efficiently as possible to meet all program requirements and provide recovery assistance to homeowners.

To view the full process, please click here.

Q: Can I switch my chosen program solution for repairs?

Yes, homeowners may switch between Solution 1 (Program-Managed construction) and Solution 2 (Homeowner-Managed construction) anytime prior to closing on their grant agreement. More information on switching solutions can be found here.

Q: I sold my home after the 2016 floods, am I still eligible for assistance through the Restore Louisiana Homeowner Assistance Program?

No, program policy requires homeowners to self-certify that they still own the damaged property and have not transferred it or received notices of default or seizure related to taxes, mortgage, or title prior to receiving a grant award. Additionally, the program requires that homeowners maintain ownership throughout the entirety of their participation in the program.

Survey and Application

Q: Why is an initial survey required for the Homeowner Assistance Program?

The survey gives the Program an initial indication on whether you might qualify for assistance. If the information you provide meets the program criteria, you’ll be invited to formally submit an application. Please note that your survey responses do not determine final eligibility for the Program or your award amount. The deadline to complete the initial homeowner program survey was July 20, 2018.

Q: How can I update the information in my application?

To update your information online, log into your online account using this link; all you need is your Account ID, last name, and password. If you don’t remember your password, simply click on the key icon in the top right corner of the login portal to reset it. You will receive an email with a link to create a new password that you can use to log in.

To update your information by phone, call 866-735-2001 any time from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., Monday through Friday. Tell the representative that you would like to update your application information, and he or she can walk through the question(s) with you. Please have your Account ID ready when you call.

Q: I completed the survey and am waiting to hear back about my application. How should I prepare for the application, and what documents will I need?

Homeowners will be invited to complete the application via email, phone or mail. Your application can be completed online and does not require an appointment. However, if you need assistance, please call 866-735-2001. If we are unable to complete your application online or over the phone, our program representatives will schedule an appointment at one of our Housing Assistance Centers. We encourage you to follow these steps to avoid wait times. If you are unable to visit a Housing Assistance Center or complete your application electronically, accommodations will be made so that you can complete your application in a way that works for you.

We encourage you to prepare for the application process by gathering documentation that will be needed to verify the information in your survey. At a minimum, we will be required to verify the following:

  • Identity of all applicants
  • Proof of home ownership
  • Proof of disability if a member of the household is disabled
  • Proof of primary residency/occupancy
  • Income Documentation (to verify LMI status for SBA hardship consideration)

To learn more about what documentation you may be required to provide in order to satisfy these requirements, please click here to download the Application Document Checklist.

Please note that you will also be required to complete some additional documentation, such as a program consent form; these documents will be made available to you when you receive your application. You will be able to complete additional documentation online and sign with an electronic signature, or you may print them out and upload the completed documents to the online portal if you prefer. These documents can be found on the “Program Informational Materials” page under “Applicant Forms” here.

If you plan to begin your application electronically, please note that the best way to access the online application is via a laptop or desktop computer, rather than a cell phone or tablet device. A larger screen and the ability to upload documents will help ensure readability and ease of access for completing the program application. We also strongly encourage the use of Google Chrome as your internet browser.

Q: I am unable to access my eGrants account. What should I do?

You may want to reset your password, which can be done here or by clicking the key icon in the top right corner of the eGrants Plus page.

If you continue to experience technical difficulties, please reach out to us at 866-735-2001 (M-F, 8 a.m. – 6 p.m.) for additional assistance.

Environmental Reviews and Lead-Based Paint Assessments

Q: What is an environmental review?

The environmental review is the process of reviewing a project and its potential environmental impact to determine whether it meets federal, state, and local environmental standards. This process is required by federal regulation to ensure that the proposed project does not negatively impact the environment and our citizens.

An environmental review must be completed prior to home construction. The process starts with an inspection of the flood damaged property where an inspector observes the exterior of the home and the surrounding environment. Using photographs, aerial maps, and public databases to assess each property, our inspectors may also consult with state and federal agencies such as the State Historic Preservation Office or the Environmental Protection Agency. Each property is evaluated for characteristics such as whether the property is impacted by or impacts floodplains, historical districts, aquifers, natural and scenic state and federal streams, toxic sites such as landfills, etc. While passing the environmental review is not a guarantee of a grant award, its successful completion is a critical first step.

The environmental review is separate and distinct from the damage assessment inspection. The environmental review is conducted without an appointment and from the road or right-of-way. Inspectors do not need to enter onto the property, unless the property is secluded on a private road or is not viewable from the right-of-way. The damage assessment inspection, will occur later in the process and will require an appointment and access to the interior of your property.

Q: When does an environmental review occur?

The program is conducting environmental review after survey completion and prior to homeowner application to the program. Environmental inspectors do not enter the inside of a property. These reviews are conducted from the right of way and no appointment is scheduled with the homeowner. A program inspector will take photographs of the property and note any visible environmental conditions. All inspectors will wear a collared shirt with the Restore Louisiana Homeowner Assistance Program logo and carry an identification badge.

Once the homeowner has completed a survey and their environmental review is completed, the homeowner will be notified when their designated phase is opened for application. Sequencing the survey, environmental review, and application in this manner significantly reduces the burden on homeowners who would otherwise be required to stop work on their damaged homes, upon application to the program.

Q: What is a lead-based paint assessment?

For more information on lead-based paint assessments, view our guidance document here.

Construction

Q: How do I find a Louisiana licensed contractor?

Any homeowner that is looking for a Louisiana licensed contractor should refer to the Louisiana State Licensing Board for Contractors website at www.lslbc.louisiana.gov, which contains valuable information for consumers on how to hire a licensed contractor, along with an online contractor search to confirm Louisiana contractor license status. The Restore Louisiana Homeowner Assistance Program does require all homebuilding contractors to be Louisiana licensed and insured. Please see our “10 Tips to Remember When Hiring a Contractor” flyer for additional information.

Q: I hired a contractor, but he/she never did the work. What should I do?

If you haven’t already done so, please contact the Louisiana State Licensing Board for Contractors about the issue; you can file a complaint online here. The Licensing Board also has a number of helpful resources for consumers, which you can find on their “for consumers” page. To take legal action against the contractor, you will need to contact a private attorney or legal aid organization.

As it relates to the Restore Louisiana Homeowner Assistance Program, you are encouraged to have the following documents in your records for future reference:

  1. Police report
  2. Filed complaint with Louisiana State Licensing Board for Contractors
  3. Filed fraud report with attorney general’s office (more information here)
Q: What are Green Building Standards and how do I make sure I comply?

Green Building Standards aim to ensure construction is completed in an environmentally-responsible and resource-efficient way. The Program has developed the Green Building Guidance Document to educate applicants on how they can ensure compliance.

For more information on the Program’s Green Building Standards, and to view specific checklists listed in the Guidance Document, visit the overview page here.

Program Awards and Benefits

Q: What does “Duplication of Benefits” mean?

Duplication of benefits is the receipt of funding from multiple sources for the same purpose. The Robert T. Stafford Disaster Assistance and Emergency Relief Act (Stafford Act) prohibits any person, business concern or other entity from receiving financial assistance from CDBG Disaster Recovery funding with respect to any part of the loss resulting from a major disaster as to which he/she has already received financial assistance under any other program or from insurance or any other sources. It is an amount determined by the program that may result in the reduction of an award value.

Duplication of benefits includes assistance from FEMA, the Small Business Administration (SBA), the US Dept. of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), private and NFIP flood insurance, or any other source for which funds are designated toward the rehabilitation or reconstruction of an applicant’s structure.

Q: I applied and was told that I was eligible for an SBA loan. How will this affect the grant award that I can receive through the Restore Louisiana Program?

Current federal regulations deem Small Business Administration (SBA) loans for repair to be a duplication of benefits for federally-funded repair programs. If an applicant has executed a loan from the SBA to cover the cost of repairs, the total amount of the approved loan is considered a duplication of benefits and unfortunately, the entire SBA approved loan amount counts as a duplication of benefits even if an applicant has declined the loan or requested a reduction after SBA approval. Further, the entire SBA approved amount counts as a duplication of benefits even if an applicant has not drawn down any funds from the approved loan.

Applicants who have applied for an SBA loan but have a record of declining the loan or have not executed the SBA loan may be considered for program funding, but awards will be adjusted to account for any SBA duplication of benefits.

If a low to moderate income (LMI) household has declined an SBA loan, a hardship will be presumed and the SBA loan will not be considered a duplication of benefits. SBA loan declination is defined as an applicant having never executed the SBA loan documents.

In addition, hardship rules can be extended to both LMI and non-LMI households in cases where SBA has changed the underwriting of the loan and its terms due to a change in the applicant’s circumstances (loss of job, death, etc.). If this occurs, the program would use the new eligible SBA award if they lowered the loan, or remove the DOB in its entirety if it was cancelled in full. It is the Applicant’s responsibility to contact SBA and provide the program with a copy of their letter from SBA if they meet these criteria.

Q: I don’t think my SBA loan should be considered a Duplication of Benefits. What is being done to address this?

Gov. John Bel Edwards and the Restore Louisiana team not only fully understand your frustration regarding SBA loans being considered a Duplication of Benefits (DOB), but agree that a grant is not a loan and should not be considered a DOB for the Restore Louisiana Homeowner Assistance Program.

Unfortunately, the federal government requires SBA loans to be counted as a DOB, except in cases where a homeowner’s situation may meet hardship criteria. More information about SBA loans and hardship criteria is linked below. Because of this, Gov. Edwards and the Louisiana Congressional Delegation continue to push for a favorable resolution to this pressing problem. Until such time, Restore Louisiana is mandated to operate in accordance with the guidelines set forth by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), which provides the federal funding to operate the program.

Since the 2016 floods, Gov. Edwards has made several trips to Washington D.C., working alongside our Congressional Delegation and both the Obama and Trump Administrations to fix the Duplication of Benefits issue. Gov. Edwards’ most recent letter to HUD asks the agency to provide a speedy and final interpretation of the language related to the federal DOB penalty included in the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018.

We are closely tracking all legislation related to SBA loans and awaiting further clarification and guidance from HUD to understand how this legislation will affect the program. If HUD provides guidance to the program to no longer consider declined SBA loans as a DOB, then homeowners who are positively affected will be contacted by the program and have their awards updated, regardless of where they are in the program.

For more information about how current federal regulations regarding SBA loans may impact an applicant’s Restore Louisiana grant award, including hardship criteria, please visit: http://restore.la.gov/faqs/#sba_loan.

Q: Can my grant award funds or other Federal Disaster Recovery program funds be used to repay and/or pay down an SBA loan?

No, according to current federal agency guidance, federal grants/loans cannot be used to repay other federal grants/loans.

Q: How is the award calculated for site-built homes?

During the damage assessment, a program representative will perform a detailed inspection of the home to determine a dollar amount (based on economy/standard-grade materials) for the work already completed on the home and the work that remains. The Program will then review any other benefits received from other sources, such as FEMA Individual Assistance or SBA loans. Federal law requires the accounting of other benefits in calculating the grant award. From there, the formula for calculating a homeowner’s grant award is as follows:

All qualifying homeowners are eligible for 100% of the maximum reimbursement and remaining repair award.

This video provides additional information on how the Program calculates grant awards.

Q: My grant award has been calculated, but I have new information and/or documentation that may affect my grant award calculation. Can I still submit this information?

If a homeowner feels that the program incorrectly calculated their grant award based on existing policy and has new documentation that was not submitted with the homeowner’s application, he or she may file an appeal.
Appeals must be filed prior to signing your grant award or within thirty days of the date you received your grant award determination letter, whichever occurs first.

The appeal request can be submitted in one of the following ways:

eGrants: You should access the Appeal Form by selecting the Appeal radio button on the Award Acknowledgement screen within eGrants. The Request for Appeal form will display with Save and Submit buttons. Once you have completed the form, and all documents to support your Appeal have been provided, then Submit the form. If additional time is needed to gather documents and information to support the Appeal, then you can choose Save to save the entry to submit at a later time. Note: It is the homeowners’ responsibility to provide all documents necessary to support their appeal at the time of submission.

In Person: If you are unable to file an appeal online, you will need to schedule an in-person meeting with your Case Manager.

Regardless of the reason(s) you have filed an appeal, your entire file will undergo a full review. You must be aware that this full file review may result in positive or negative changes to your eligibility status or an increase or decrease in your previous award amount. Such variations in your final award are necessary to ensure that your home is properly repaired and that the Program only pays for work that is necessary and reasonable within Program guidelines. In any instance of a decrease in the actual cost of your repair or reconstruction, the grant award and disbursements will be reduced to reflect the reduction in repair or construction costs.

Q: What are the options for making repairs to site-built homes?

You can choose one of three solutions based on your progress in the rebuilding process and your capacity to complete the work. Program staff will provide guidance to homeowners on the requirements for each solution.

Solution 1: Program-Managed. The Program manages and completes the construction process on behalf of homeowners. The Program’s contractors will repair or reconstruct damaged properties. Homeowners enter into grant agreements with the state. They do not select contractors and do not do business directly with the contractor

Solution 2: Homeowner-Managed. Homeowners may choose to manage their own repair or reconstruction work. Under this option, a homeowner chooses to hire a licensed residential contractor or registered home improvement contractor, or they can self-manage repairs. While the Program provides funding based on economy-grade materials and finishes, under this option, the homeowner may select higher grade materials and finishes and pay the difference in price. Homeowners also enter into a grant agreement with the state in order to receive assistance through the federal Community Development Block Grant funding, and the state monitors the work. For more information, view the “Preparing for Homeowner-Managed Construction (Solution 2)” guidance document here.

Solution 3: Reimbursement. Homeowners who have completed partial or full repairs before applying to the Program may qualify for reimbursement of eligible expenses incurred before the application process or before December 31, 2018, whichever is sooner.

Q: Once I close and sign my grant agreement, when will I receive a check?

Solution 3 – Reimbursement
If you are eligible for reimbursement for work already completed, the Program will request funds in the amount of your approved reimbursement award once your grant agreement is signed. Processing will take approximately 3-4 weeks. Once funds are ready for disbursement, your check will be mailed to your preferred address.

Solution 2 – Homeowner-Managed Construction
If you have chosen Solution 2 (Homeowner-Managed Construction), you will work with a Construction Technical Advisor (CTA) during the contractor selection phase of the Program to determine the number of progress inspections and requests for payment that will be required for rebuilding. Once a progress inspection is performed, payment will be provided consistent with work completed. Please note that the estimated timeline for each payment is 3-4 weeks following the completion and approval of the progress inspection.

Solution 2 – Manufactured Home/Mobile Home Replacement Assistance
For homeowners who are eligible for manufactured/mobile home replacement under Solution 2, payment will be requested once you have signed the grant agreement, provided a purchase agreement to the Program, and a final inspection is performed. Once these steps are complete, it will take approximately 3-4 weeks for the check to be issued to either the MHU dealer (if purchase not completed) or the finance company (if purchase is complete).

Solution 1 – Program-Managed Construction
Payments are provided directly to the contractor under Solution 1.

If you chose Solution 1 and are also eligible for reimbursement (Solution 3), the estimated timeline for disbursement of reimbursement funds is approximately 3-4 weeks from the date you sign your grant award.

Q: Once I sign my grant agreement, what are the next steps with respect to starting construction or requesting a progress inspection?

Solution 1 – Program-Managed Construction
For homeowners who choose Solution 1 (Program-Managed Construction), the Program will issue a Notice to Proceed (NTP) to the contractor (the same company that has already conducted your pre-construction walk-through) after you sign your grant award. The contractor will contact you within 2-3 business days after they receive the NTP to discuss a construction start date and plans for relocation during construction (if required). The contractor will also submit all required building permits and schedule all program and permit required inspections.

Solution 2 – Homeowner-Managed Construction
For homeowners who choose Solution 2 (Homeowner-Managed Construction), a Construction Technical Advisor will contact you either by email (if an email address is on file with the Program) or by phone within 3-5 business days after you sign your grant award to issue a Notice to Proceed in reference to prospective repairs. If repairs to the home are underway or have been completed since the damage assessment was conducted, please notify your Construction Technical Advisor by responding via email or during the introductory phone call so that a progress or final inspection may be scheduled. These inspections will be required to approve the disbursement of funds for work completed.

Q: Why does the Homeowner Assistance Program policy only allow for replacement of mobile homes and not for repair of damaged units?

Restore Louisiana’s policy is to replace, not rehabilitate/repair, flood-damaged mobile home units to best serve the long-term housing needs of flood-affected citizens and protect homeowners from potential future environmental health hazards. Water damage to manufactured housing often results in serious structural and environmental health hazards for occupants of manufactured housing units that may not be effectively remediated with repair activities. Newer manufactured housing units are built to higher construction standards and offer more energy-efficient options that result in better utility efficiency and lower utility charges.

The Homeowner Assistance Program will provide funds for the replacement of single-wide or double-wide damaged units and the homeowner has complete control over the choice of the unit they select. The maximum Program allowance is $45,000 for single-wide units and $65,000 for double-wide units. The maximum Program allowance will be reduced by any duplication of benefits. Once the maximum allowance has been determined, the Program will compare this amount with the actual cost of the replacement MHU and adjust the applicant’s award to the lesser of the two. The funding can cover the cost, transport, set-up, and site work necessary to install the unit.

Additionally, applicants are able to provide receipts to document repairs made to mobile home units using funds received for structural repairs from federal funding sources. The receipts will be reviewed, and all eligible expenditures will be used to offset Duplication of Benefits (DOB).

For more information, view the “Manufactured Housing Replacement Assistance (Solution 2)” guidance document here.

Q: Does my grant award calculation include the cost of demolition?

Demolition costs are handled by the program in the following ways:

Reconstruction: If your home qualifies for reconstruction with the program, demolition of the flood-damaged structure will be included. The $78 per square foot allowance includes the cost of demolition of the previous structure.

Structure replaced with MHU or Demolished Prior to Damage Assessment: If a homeowner has previously replaced a flood-damaged MHU or stick-built home with a new MHU, demolition of the previous structure will NOT be included in the reimbursement calculation.

Any demolition costs associated with a stick-built property, if applicable, are included within the replacement manufactured housing unit Program allowance and are not considered additional costs.

Q: Does the Restore Louisiana Homeowner Assistance Program provide assistance to homeowners who need to demolish and reconstruct their flood-damaged home?

The program does provide a reconstruction option for homeowners to demolish their flood-damaged home and construct a new residential structure if any of the following are true:

  • The flood-damaged home was demolished or unsafe to enter at the time of the damage assessment
  • They received a condemnation letter or substantial damage letter from their local jurisdiction
  • The relative percentage of the program repair estimate was greater than or equal to 80% of the reconstruction estimate

Homeowners who are eligible for reconstruction may also choose between Solution 1: Program-Managed reconstruction or Solution 2: Homeowner-Managed reconstruction.

More information on reconstruction can be found here.

Q: Does the program pay for me to relocate if I am required to vacate my home during construction or reconstruction?

The program is not able to cover the costs associated with short-term housing for homeowners who are required to move out of their home during program-managed repairs.

Q: Why am I being asked to provide “escrow” or meet my “homeowner responsibility”?

In cases where a homeowner received or was approved for funding from other sources (such as FEMA or SBA) to repair his/her storm-damaged home, federal law requires those funds to be invested by the homeowner into home repair before the Program may provide additional dollars.

  • Solution 1, Program Managed Construction – The “required escrow” funds referenced by your previously accepted Award Acknowledgment must be submitted to the Program during your closing appointment in the form of a cashier’s check. These funds are matched with your grant funds from the Restore program to ensure your repair/reconstruction project is fully funded and complete.
  • Solution 2, Homeowner Managed Construction – The “Homeowner Responsibility” amount referenced in your Grant Agreement is the amount of money you will need to spend on home repairs listed in your Estimated Cost of Repairs (ECR) prior to receiving Program grant funds. Once the Program inspects and confirms completion of items in your ECR totaling more than your Homeowner Responsibility, you will be able to receive grant funds. If you have completed repairs since the time of your damage assessment, the cost of those items may be reduced from your Homeowner Responsibility amount.
Q: Am I required to maintain flood insurance as a participant in the Homeowner Assistance Program?

If your structure is located in a Special Flood Hazard Area (SFHA), you will be required to maintain adequate structural flood insurance at ALL times for your home.

  • You must submit proof of flood insurance or a letter of declination (if home is uninsurable because of disrepair or the MHU is not on site) before signing your Grant Agreement. The policy amount should be the lesser of either: a) The full insurable value of the structure as determined by the applicable property insurer, or b) The maximum amount available for the structure under the National Flood Insurance Program, or a successor program. The full insurable value of the structure will be based upon the Program’s total project cost for the Applicant.
  • In addition, you will be required to submit proof that you obtained flood insurance after your construction has been completed or your MHU has been installed. Final payment will not be released until this proof of flood insurance is provided to the Program.
  • Homeowners who fail to provide proof of flood insurance will be ineligible to receive grant funds and/or in the event funds have already been provided, can be subject to recapture.
  • Failure to maintain insurance in the future will result in ineligibility for future disaster relief per federal guidelines.

We encourage you to check with your local floodplain manager if you have questions about your flood zone determination.