Today, Gov. John Bel Edwards blasted a budget plan presented by leaders in the U.S. Senate that removes a provision to assist Louisiana flood victims, the Duplication of Benefits (DOB) penalty.
“The primary issue we hear about from homeowners who were impacted by the 2016 floods is the Duplication of Benefits (DOB) penalty they face when applying to the Restore Homeowners Assistance Program, and being made eligible, for a Small Business Administration (SBA) loan,” said Gov. Edwards. “In many cases, homeowners did not even accept the funds, but are still being penalized. That might make sense in Washington, but to the rest of the country it is just another burdensome federal regulation standing in the way of recovery. Congressmen Steve Scalise, Garret Graves and Cedric Richmond crafted a bipartisan fix to this penalty that overwhelmingly passed the House of Representatives but was later stalled in the Senate. For the Senate to ignore how important this fix is, not only for the people of Louisiana, but for other areas hit by natural disasters, is mind boggling. The U.S. House of Representatives acted in the best interest of flood victims. The Senate should do the same. With only one member of our delegation on the Senate Appropriations Committee, I am asking Sen. Kennedy to do everything in his power to ensure this fix remains in place for all survivors in every impacted area.”
Currently, flood survivors who applied for Small Business Administration loans immediately following the floods are not able to make full use of grant funding available through the RESTORE Louisiana Homeowner Assistance Program. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), in the immediate aftermath of a disaster, insists that survivors apply for a SBA loan without fully disclosing that they could be penalized down the road. For example, a homeowner who was eligible for a $90,000 SBA disaster loan, but perhaps only borrowed $30,000 immediately following the disaster, would be penalized in the grant program for the full amount of the loan. The federal government labels this scenario as a Duplication of Benefits (DOB). This is also the case if a homeowner borrowed $0. That homeowner is still penalized for the full $90,000.