FAQs

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 flood recovery plan is administered by the state Office of Community Development, Disaster Recovery Unit.

Q: Where can I find eligibility requirements?

General qualifications for the Restore Louisiana flood recovery plan are described in both the OCD-DRU Master Action Plan and in Action Plan Amendment 1, which can be accessed here. Scroll to the bottom of the page and click on Great Floods of 2016 Action Plans and Amendments. This is a large document and could take a few moments to open.
For more information on eligibility, please visit http://restore.la.gov/recovery-assistance/homeowner-assistance/do-i-qualify/

Q: Does having coverage with the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) prevent me from taking part in the homeowner assistance program?

For homeowners with NFIP coverage at the time of the flooding, only those who meet the criteria for Phase 1 (low-to-moderate income, elderly or persons with disabilities, outside the floodplain) will qualify for the program at this time. This could change as the program progresses, especially if the state gets additional recovery funding through Congress. For more information about Phase I, as well as all other phases of the program, please visit our “Program Phases and Tiers” page.

To clarify, the state knows that the amount of recovery funding is nowhere near enough to repair all the damage from the 2016 floods. Therefore, priority is being given to flood survivors who have no access to other resources for repairs.

That is not to suggest that someone with NFIP coverage will necessarily receive enough money to cover all the damage they experienced or that anyone should be punished for having insurance. Rather, the program was designed to ensure that homeowners who are most vulnerable and have the fewest resources receive help. Once those families get at least some measure of assistance, the program will move through phases that reach increasingly larger groups, potentially including remaining unmet needs of homeowners with flood insurance.

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 contents of a home. The Restore Louisiana Homeowner Assistance Program is designed to help homeowners make critical improvements to the structure of their homes through either rebuilding or reimbursement for families that have already expended personal dollars on eligible recovery efforts. If you have fully or partially repaired your home, or need to repair or reconstruct your home, please fill out the initial homeowner survey.

Q: My home was affected by the March and/or August flood, but I sold it. Should I still complete the survey? Could I still receive a grant award?

Program policy requires applicants to certify that they still own the home and intend to keep it as their primary residence to be eligible for the program. However, if the home you owned was damaged by the flood, you are still encouraged to complete the survey even if you no longer own the home, as it helps the state further understand the remaining need that exists for recovery – including both rebuilding or reimbursement. The greater understanding that the state has of these existing needs, the better state officials can communicate the need to Congress for additional funds to expand the program beyond the current parameters.

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

The program will handle elevations on a case-by-case basis. However, in most cases, unless required by local ordinance, properties that are being repaired, rather than reconstructed, will not be eligible to be elevated through the program. Homeowners are encouraged to work with their local government and FEMA to make a determination about what is required based on local code and local ordinance.

Q: Which homeowners will be helped by the homeowner assistance program?

The Restore Louisiana Homeowner Assistance Program is funded by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. As a condition of the funding, HUD requires the program to help families who are most vulnerable with the least access to other resources for home repairs or rebuilding.

To learn more about the current phases, please visit: http://restore.la.gov/recovery-assistance/homeowner-assistance/do-i-qualify/. Please know that we are doing everything we can to secure additional resources to be able to help more homeowners.

Q: What is the Homeowner Assistance Program process?

The Homeowner Assistance Program process consists of eight steps, starting with “Survey” and concluding with “Reimbursement/Repair” for eligible homeowners. 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: The administration acknowledges that the initial appropriation is not enough to cover the state’s entire need. So how will the money be distributed?

In general, HUD’s guidelines require the money to go where the biggest need exists. This is usually defined as the areas with the most flood damage and the most vulnerable populations:

  • Residents with low-to-moderate incomes
  • Houses that suffered major damage as defined by federal guidelines.
  • Residents who had no coverage through the National Flood Insurance Program
  • Residents who live outside a floodplain
  • Households that include residents who are elderly or have a disability

By focusing on these residents, as directed by the Governor and the Restore Louisiana Task Force, the state is currently writing an Action Plan to help those who are most at risk of having to leave their homes for lack of immediate resources.

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 apply. Please note, therefore, that your survey responses do not determine final eligibility for the program or your award amount.

In addition, the survey provides valuable information about homeowners’ ongoing needs as the recovery continues. It also helps the state in its recovery planning efforts and efforts to demonstrate additional need to Congress. Even if you don’t think you’re eligible under the current criteria, you may become eligible as additional funds become available.

Q: I need to update the information in my survey. How can I do this?

There are a couple ways to update the information in your survey, and you are welcome to choose the option that works best for you, either online or by phone.

To update your information online, log back into your survey 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’d like to update your survey 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 in phases to complete the application via email or a phone call, if the homeowner did not list an email address when taking the initial homeowner survey.

Your application can be can be completed online and doesn’t 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 HAC 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 for all adult household members

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.

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. While the survey is responsive to all such devices, a larger screen and the ability to upload documents will help ensure readability and ease of access. We also strongly encourage the use of Google Chrome as your internet browser.

Environmental Reviews

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.

Program Awards and Benefits

Q: How does my income affect any assistance I might receive?

Your income could play a role in the way your award amount is calculated, depending on which of three solutions you choose for repairs. Income is also a factor with construction options. More information is available in the section below titled “How is the award calculated?”

Meanwhile, your family’s income could affect the phase, or order, in which you receive funding. The program is designed to provide assistance to low-to-moderate-income families first. Low-to-moderate income is defined as a household with a total annual income that is 80 percent or less of the area median income of the parish or metropolitan area.

Here is a sample of low-to-moderate income households.

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?

If you are eligible to receive an SBA loan, you may still be able to receive a grant award from the Restore Louisiana Homeowner Assistance Program; however, because federal law prohibits any individual, business, or entity from receiving a “duplication of benefits” – a term used to describe receiving funds from two sources for the same loss – the amount of the SBA loan you were approved for would be deducted from your grant award. This is the case even if you did not accept the loan or if your loan is paid in full. In addition, according to federal agency guidance, grant awards cannot be used to pay an SBA loan. 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, etc. Click here for more information.

Q: If I’ve already received money through FEMA, SBA, flood insurance or private insurance, does this affect my ability to qualify for the assistance program?

Yes. It may impact the amount of funding for which you qualify through the assistance program. But it does not automatically disqualify you from state assistance. Federal law does not allow what is known as DOB, or duplication of benefits. Individuals, businesses and other entities cannot receive federal funds for loss of property if they received financial assistance from another program, insurance claim or other source. Click here for more information on the rules regarding DOB.

Q: How is the award calculated?

The award is determined by the scope of work based on economy-grade building materials as calculated using standard estimating software, minus any duplication of benefits through flood insurance, FEMA Individual Assistance or SBA loans, for example. The program will include details of program standards in its policies and procedures.

Because funding is limited, the state will use two award tiers for each of the three solutions listed above.

Prospective work (Solutions 1 and 2):

  • At the time of application, homeowners still have repairs or reconstruction work to complete
  • The program completes an inspection and determines the scope of work based on economy grade materials
  • The program checks for duplication of benefits
  • The program deducts potential duplication of benefits from the scope of work
  • The program determines an eligible prospective award amount
  • The program applies the dual-tiered award approach:
    • Homeowners with household incomes of up to 120 percent of area median income are eligible for 100 percent of the eligible award amount for prospective work
    • Homeowners with household incomes of more than 120 percent of area median income are eligible for 50 percent of the eligible award amount for prospective work

Reimbursement (Solution 3)

  • At the time of application, homeowners may have completed some or all repairs or reconstruction
  • The program completes an inspection and determines the scope of work based on economy grade materials
  • The program checks for duplication of benefits
  • The program deducts potential duplication of benefits from the scope of work
  • The program determines an eligible prospective award amount
  • The program applies the dual-tiered award approach:
    • Low-to-moderate-income households with an owner or co-owner who is elderly (62 years old or older), or have a person with disabilities in the home are eligible to receive 100 percent of their eligible reimbursement award amount
    • All other households are eligible for 25 percent of their eligible reimbursement award amount

NOTE: Some homeowners already have completed repair work with FEMA funds they received. The homeowner assistance program will not consider such funding as duplication of benefits. However, a damage assessment and scope of work report will be completed to determine funds used for repairs of the home.   

Here is a sample of award calculations.

Q: Who is responsible for calculating duplication of benefits?

As the homeowner, it’s your responsibility to report all sources of disaster funding, either received or anticipated, to your state program administrator before your award is calculated. You must report any money received after the award calculation as well. When calculating your award amount, the state will determine your unmet need by deducting any assistance that creates a duplication of benefits from the cost of total damages. The unmet need is the maximum amount you’re eligible to receive, subject to other requirements.

Q: How is unmet need calculated, and how does this impact the amount I’m eligible to receive in federal funds?

First, the state determines the SOW, or scope of work, needed to repair flood damage. Costs are calculated using an identified eligible list of items that are reimbursed at a fixed, economy-rate price. Note that this amount may be very different than the amount of damages or how much it costs to repair them. Second, the state subtracts all recovery assistance you’ve been approved for. The remainder is the unmet need and maximum amount you’re eligible to receive in federal funds, subject to rules and guidelines.

Q: If I am eligible, how do I receive my award?

Money awarded through the homeowner assistance program must go toward repairing flood-damaged homes. Therefore, the program is limited to paying for the costs of repairs and rebuilding. Depending on which repair solution you choose, the assistance needed to repair or rebuild a home will be managed directly by the program, or assistance will be provided to homeowners and their selected construction contractors.

Q: If I qualify for an award, when can work start on my house?

This depends on a number of factors, including the procedure for determining your award amount and your choice of program options. In addition, the program will distribute assistance in six phases.

In order to qualify for these phases:

All Phases: A homeowner must have major/severe damage
Phase I: Low-to-moderate income, elderly or persons with disabilities, outside the floodplain
Phases II-VI: No structural flood insurance at the time of the flood
Phase II: Low-to-moderate income, elderly or persons with disabilities, inside the floodplain
Phase III: Reside within one of the 10 most impacted or distressed parishes, outside the floodplain, no priority due to income
Phase IV: Reside within one of the 10 most impacted or distressed parishes, inside the floodplain, no priority due to income
Phase V: All other parishes, inside and outside the floodplain
Phase VI: Reimbursement for homeowners who have completed the rebuilding process at the time they answer the survey or complete the application

NOTE: These phases also determine the order in which you apply. It is possible that if the survey indicates you are eligible, you may be required to wait before the actual application begins.

Q: What are the options for making repairs?

You can choose one of three solutions based on your progress in the rebuilding process and your capacity to complete the work. You can also choose to let the program manage your construction, or you can select your own contractor who follows state requirements for the assistance program.

For homeowners who have completed partial or full repairs to their homes, some reimbursement may be available for rebuilding work already completed.

Program staff will provide guidance to homeowners on the requirements of each solution. Homeowners who complete repairs may be able to receive reimbursement for eligible costs incurred either before applying for the program or before September 8, 2017, whichever date is earlier.

NOTE: Home elevation may be an option for homeowners who meet program requirements, although each case will be evaluated individually. Elevation is not available for homes outside the floodplain with the possible exception where elevation is required by local ordinance.

Solution 1: Program Managed. The assistance 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 manage their own repair or reconstruction work, while the program provides advisory services on how to navigate the construction process. Homeowners can use their own contractors and do business with them directly. 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.

Solution 3: Reimbursement. Homeowners who have completed partial or full repairs before applying to the assistance program may qualify for reimbursement of eligible expenses incurred before the application process and by September 8, 2017, whichever is sooner.

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)