Back in October, Congress passed a law fixing the duplication of benefits penalty, a policy that blocked more than 6,000 homeowners who flooded in 2016 from accessing recovery grants from the state. But Louisiana homeowners impacted by the change still haven’t received the money.
The new law will allow homeowners who took out a Small Business Administration loan to receive a state recovery grant. While the policy change was passed by Congress and signed into law by President Trump last year, it still hasn't been implemented.
Louisiana's Office of Community Development is waiting on guidance from the US Department of Housing and Urban Development before sending out grants. Guidance was originally expected around March, but is likely to be pushed back even further as a result of the partial federal government shutdown - another delay in a recovery effort that has been criticized as being too slow.
In the meantime, the state has set aside more than $300 million in federal grant funds for these homeowners.
State officials have called the duplication of benefits penalty the single biggest hurdle to recovery from the 2016 floods. FEMA pointed thousands of homeowners towards low-interest SBA loans to help pay for repairs to their damaged homes. But doing so made accessing recovery grants from the state nearly impossible. Many homeowners say the duplication of benefits policy put them at a financial disadvantage, saddling them with years of payments and interest.
On this week's Capitol Access, Pat Forbes, Executive Director of Louisiana's Office of Community Development, explains what the state needs before it can allocate the funds and how much time that could take.