By Victor Skinner | The Center Square contributor
Louisiana is moving forward with processing thousands of applications for funds to repair damages from Hurricanes Laura and Delta following federal approval of the state’s $600 million grant application.
Gov. John Bel Edwards announced last week Louisiana finalized a grant agreement with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development that makes $600 million available for recovery from Hurricanes Laura and Delta, and has already offered $16 million to 193 qualified homeowners.
“With the execution of this grant agreement, the state can begin implementing the programs that will assist the residents, businesses and communities affected by these devastating storms,” Edwards said. “Not wanting to cause any further delay for those impacted, I directed the Office of Community Development to begin proactively processing homeowners’ applications early so that immediately upon execution of this grant agreement they would be able to start the process of repairing or reconstructing their homes. The survey to determine eligibility remains open, and I encourage anyone who has not started the process to do so now.”
HUD approved the state’s plan for spending $600 million in recovery funding for Hurricanes Delta and Laura on July 14, and the state amended the plan to add $1.27 billion for storm recovery from Hurricane Ida and severe storms in May 2021. The state also requested an additional $450 million for Hurricane Laura and Delta recovery. The amendment was approved on Sept. 20, and OCD expects to launch recovery programs for all eligible storms once the amendment is executed with HUD, according to an Edwards release.
Louisiana launched the Restore Louisiana Homeowner Assistance Program on Jan. 31 to get a head start on the application process for homeowners, offering a survey as an initial step. Restore Louisiana has since invited eligible homeowners who took the survey to submit an application and is now in the process of providing award determinations.
More than 7,900 Louisianans have completed the survey since January, including 2,200 who were invited to submit applications, according to the release.
“We wanted to issue award determinations as soon as we had access to the federal funds, so our eligible homeowners could immediately begin their repair process,” OCD Executive Director Pat Forbes said. “Now that these funds are available, OCD will continue its efforts to reach as many eligible homeowners as possible, in addition to rolling out the programs of economic revitalization, infrastructure and community planning so vital to our recovery.”
The survey, open to homeowners who sustained FEMA-determined major/severe damage from Hurricanes Laura, Delta, Ida or the May 2021 severe storms, is available on the Restore Louisiana website, or by calling 866-735-2001. The website also provides assistance with in-person surveys and applications.