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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.
Additional federal assistance is expected to be released to Louisiana later this year that will provide at least some assistance to all flood-impacted homeowners who experienced major or severe damage and did not have flood insurance for their structure at the time of the flood.
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.
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:
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.
At this time, the homeowner program is not available to those who had structural coverage through NFIP or other insurance programs, though that could change as the program progresses, especially if the state gets additional recovery funding through Congress.
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 must be 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 get 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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):
Reimbursement (Solution 3)
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.
The Restore Louisiana Homeowner Assistance Program will open in April. Once it does, we’ll inform residents through news media and our Restore Louisiana email updates. Please make sure you’re signed up for email. You can also follow us on social media.
The first step in the program will be a brief survey completed either online or over the phone. The survey should take about 15-20 minutes and will not require documentation. If, based on your answers, you qualify for assistance, you’ll be invited to apply for the program. Documentation will be needed when the formal application begins.
The survey is important for several reasons. Funding for this initial round of assistance is very limited, and federal rules require us to give priority to homeowners with the most urgent needs. It’s possible, therefore, that if you qualify, assistance will come in later phases of the program.
In addition, once homeowners apply for assistance, they’re subject to other federal rules that could require extra time. The survey, along with program phases will minimize delays and help ensure assistance is distributed as efficiently as possible.
The program has several options that allow qualified homeowners to use their own contractor or one hired through the program. Keep in mind that in either case, the program is designed to reimburse homeowners or contractors for the money spent on repairs. In other words, repair work must be performed before you receive money through the program.
Even if you don’t think you’ll qualify, we urge all flood-impacted families to complete the survey. A second round of broader assistance will come in the next few months, and the state continues working on getting even more help. The data we collect from the survey allows us to demonstrate the state’s unmet needs.
Once again, please make sure you sign up for email updates. This is the fastest way to find out when the survey becomes available.
In the meantime, please check the Recovery Resources page on for many helpful links, especially the Disaster Case Management Program. Offered through the Louisiana Department of Health, this is a free service that helps families find resources.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
In 2016, after Gov. John Bel Edwards sought federal flood recovery funding for Louisiana, Congress provided two 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 and $1.2 billion from the second appropriation to Louisiana. The Restore Louisiana Homeowner Assistance flood recovery plan is administered by the state Office of Community Development, Disaster Recovery Unit.
Sign up for updates on the Restore Louisiana Homeowner Assistance Program through the Restore Louisiana Task Force website at restore.la.gov.
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.
Eligible homeowners will be prioritized in phases listed in Action Plans and Amendments. You may be eligible for assistance under phase one of the program if you meet all of the following criteria:
Here are the criteria for the program:
Please note that more specific eligibility requirements will be listed in a policies document currently being developed. These policies will be available when the program is underway in the second quarter of 2017.
To stay informed about the applications process that opens in the second quarter of 2017, please monitor the restore.la.gov website. Also, please stay tuned to local news. The program will attempt to contact all FEMA IA applicants by email or phone, and regional outreach events will be available for residents during the application period.
The state has moved as quickly as possible in seeking federal disaster assistance and distributing the money to those affected by the flood. Despite statements made by the news media, neither the governor’s office nor the Task Force has taken any action that would delay the distribution of flood-relief money.
Gov. Edwards’ administration secured an initial federal appropriation of $438 million just two months after the flooding. That amount is clearly not enough to cover all our needs, and the governor is continuing to meet with the federal government to garner more money.
In the meantime, the Task Force is moving forward with establishing policies and procedures for distributing federal assistance, which is a crucial part of the job. As the state receives additional money, it can be distributed with minimal delays. In fact, we’re farther along with that part of the process than the recovery after Superstorm Sandy.
The initial $438 million was approved by Congress and allocated through the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. Before we receive the money, HUD had to first write the rules for how the money can be spent. HUD recently completed that process, and the state submitted an Action Plan to HUD in order to receive the money. The Action Plan details how Louisiana will spend this money to help flood survivors.
The state has to set aside part of the appropriation for expenses associated with running the flood relief program. We estimate those expenses will total $127 million.
About $88 million is budgeted for project delivery – the cost of contractors, equipment and materials, and public outreach to inform the various communities affected by flooding. About $22 million is budgeted for administrative expenses. This includes the process of developing policies and procedures for the flood-relief program and monitoring the program’s performance, along with things like legal, accounting, auditing and reporting requirements.
A little more than $17 million is expected to be required for environmental reviews of damaged homes. This is based on projections that 5,000 homes and rental properties will need reviews for repairs or reconstruction. We estimate reviews will cost, on average, $3,500 for homes built before 1978 and $1,600 for those built after 1978.
The Task Force will also work to reduce these costs, so we can maximize the money available for recovery.
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:
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.