BATON ROUGE - Today, Gov. John Bel Edwards requested that U.S Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Secretary Julián Castro work with the state to reduce or eliminate the need for costly individual environmental reviews on single family homes eligible for federal repair grants – a request that could save Louisiana more than $105 million dollars in disaster assistance and expedite the rebuilding process for homeowners.
“My request is in the interest of promoting a speedy recovery from Louisiana’s devastating flooding events while still ensuring that our recovery actions don’t have detrimental impacts on the environment or culture of our communities,” said Gov. Edwards. “We are not proposing loosening any current floodplain or federal compliance rules for larger projects that will benefit from a full site-specific environmental review. We are simply suggesting that it would be a more effective approach to eliminate site-specific reviews for repairs to single-family homes that are likely to be approved for repairs even without those reviews.”
Current HUD regulations require Louisiana to perform a site-specific environmental review even when no work is done outside the walls of a single-family home and even when the footprint will remain unchanged. With an additional appropriation from Congress to fully meet Louisiana’s unmet housing need from the devastating March and August floods, the state could potentially serve more than 35,000 homeowners. At the current average cost of $3,500 per site-specific environmental inspection, the environmental review price tag for single family home repairs could top $105 million, or 6% of the anticipated grant amount.
In his letter, Gov. Edwards requests that the Office of Environment and Energy within HUD work with the state of Louisiana to develop a more efficient review process where a full site-specific environmental review would not be required.