Nearly 7,500 flood-impacted homeowners are in the process of receiving help with construction or reimbursement checks through Louisiana’s Restore Homeowner Assistance Program, members of the Restore Louisiana Task Force were told in their July 14 meeting. Meanwhile, members of Gov. John Bel Edwards’ Office of Community Development continued encouraging flood-impacted homeowners to complete the Restore Louisiana survey, which is required to participate in the program.
The meeting location, Beacon Light Baptist Church in north Baton Rouge, was chosen to encourage more survey participation among residents in one of the areas hit hardest by the August 2016 flood. Case managers were on site to help residents complete the survey, while members of Southeast Louisiana Legal Services and Southern University Law Center helped with legal issues over property ownership.
“We’re still in the very early stages of the homeowner assistance program, but we’re starting to move folks through the pipeline,” OCD Executive Director Pat Forbes told task force members.
Forbes offered several other key updates, including:
- More than 31,000 families have completed and submitted the survey
- 7,485 homeowners in phases 1, 2 and part of 3 have been contacted to complete the homeowner assistance program application
- $2 million in grant agreements will be awarded by the end of day on July 14 for either repairs or reimbursements for homeowners in Phase 1
- Construction work began earlier this month on Phase 1 homes under the program-managed option, and work is complete on two homes
To further encourage participation in the survey, Restore Louisiana representatives will begin door-to-door canvassing on July 18 in some of the most impacted neighborhoods, and paid media announcements will appear on local media and social media sites through mid-August. Outreach events are scheduled for the rest of the month in central and south Louisiana, following outreach events last week in Monroe and Shreveport.
All homeowners who experienced damage from the March or August 2016 floods are urged to complete the survey, regardless of whether they believe they qualify for assistance. The survey is a required first-step of the homeowner assistance program and helps determine the order in which homeowners receive help through the program.
Task force members also received updates on several other recovery assistance programs. A total of 35 applications have been received so far for Restore Louisiana’s rental program, which seeks to increase the state’s stock of available, affordable housing for flood-impacted families. The developers and landlords that have applied are requesting $10.8 million dollars on projects that would create more than 130 rental units. The deadline for the neighborhood landlord rental program has been extended to Aug. 16 while the multifamily restoration program deadline has been extended to Aug. 31.
With the small business assistance program, 26 applications have been completed of 107 received to date. The $51 million program is open to all eligible flood-impacted businesses on a first-come, first served basis as funds allow. Small businesses affected by flooding are encouraged to apply for no-interest, partially forgivable loans.
Meanwhile, Gov. Edwards’ office is inviting residents to take part in the Vermilion River Watershed Summit in Lafayette on Aug. 3. A specific location will be announced soon. The event is free and open to the public, though registration is required.
Gov. Edwards will attend a summit kickoff event, which includes an introduction to the Louisiana Watershed Resiliency Study, that takes place from 1:30-4:30 p.m. The summit is 5:30-8:30 p.m. The community will discuss the watershed study findings, along with building consensus and identifying common goals.
Task members were also updated on the Comite River Diversion project, regarding ongoing discussions among state and federal officials.
“It is critical for regions across the state to work together to define problems and develop solutions at a watershed level,” says Casey Tingle with the Governor’s Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness. “This ensures that both problems and solutions fall within the same boundaries and that appropriate partnerships are developed to work in coordination.”
Last modified: July 14, 2017