In a proactive step to continue assisting homeowners participating in the Restore Louisiana Homeowner Assistance Program, Gov. John Bel Edwards has directed the Office of Community Development (OCD) to issue a Solicitation for Offers (SFO) to expand the inspection capacity of the current program management contractor, IEM. The move comes in the wake of Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria and is in anticipation of a reduction in available qualified inspectors working in Louisiana.

“While Louisiana continues to help our fellow Americans in Texas, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, we are still undergoing our own robust recovery here at home,” said Gov. Edwards. “Three major storms having hit the country in the last month has left qualified inspectors and contractors in great demand. Already, a significant number of inspectors have left Louisiana for jobs in those affected areas, and that is having a direct impact on a key part of the Restore program. By allowing OCD to bring on more inspectors to work with IEM, we are working to ensure that Louisianans who are still rebuilding do not endure another setback as a result of these other disasters.”

Home inspections are used to establish the scope of work for repairs, which determines the grant amount homeowners can receive under the program. The SFO is for inspection services only, and is structured for unit pricing, which will provide an opportunity to lower costs for the state.

“Since Harvey, Louisiana has lost more than 40 percent of our most qualified inspectors to Texas and Florida, which has caused the home inspection process to slow significantly,” said Pat Forbes. “This new proposal will aggressively address that issue and ultimately enable the program to bring on more qualified home inspectors.”

In addition to hiring more inspectors, the program is also working with the U.S. Dept. of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to further improve the program and provide more flexibility under the federal guidelines to assist homeowners. Those measures include the following:

  • Working with federal regulators to develop a more simplified approach to determine the amount of damage and scope of work.
  • Training new inspectors.
  • Streamlining the grant awards process.

These changes would not only help Louisianans in their recovery process, but could also be used as a blueprint by other disaster -impacted areas looking to establish similar rebuilding programs.

Every homeowner who was impacted by the 2016 March and August floods should complete the Restore survey at restore.la.gov. To date:

  • $26.1 Million has been awarded to 1,097 households.
  • More than 44,000 surveys have been completed and submitted.
  • Every homeowner who submitted a survey and was qualified for Phases 1, 2 and 3 before July 1, 2017 has been invited to complete an application.
  • More than 27,500 environmental reviews have been completed.
  • The program recently expanded to include 10,000 additional homeowners who had flood insurance at the time of last year’s storms.
  • The program is now disbursing reimbursement awards to clients immediately upon signing their grant agreements to ensure that homeowners receive their final awards as soon as possible.

While working to rebuild here at home, Louisiana is contributing to the continuous relief efforts for survivors of all three storms. The Governor’s Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness (GOHSEP) and the Louisiana National Guard are deploying employees and coordinating assistance from other state agencies and parish emergency managers by collecting donations for storm survivors in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

During Hurricane Harvey, Louisiana agencies provided emergency response teams to assist Texans and their pets. The Louisiana National Guard provided soldiers and airmen for the evacuation and transportation of storm evacuees. The Department of Wildlife and Fisheries provided boats and personnel for search and rescue operations. The Department of Agriculture and Forestry and the Department of Transportation and Development provided fuel and buses to transport evacuees from Texas to Louisiana and home again. The Department of Children and Family Services operated two mega shelters in Alexandria and Shreveport.