Today, Gov. John Bel Edwards submitted a letter to President Donald J. Trump requesting a waiver of any requirements to consider Small Business Administration (SBA) loans as a duplication of benefits (DOB) to funding appropriated by Congress to the State of Louisiana through the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) program for disaster recovery. This week Congress acted fix to the federal DOB policy which prevented thousands of homeowners with SBA loans from receiving full assistance from the Restore Louisiana Homeowner Assistance Program. Gov. Edwards submitted the state’s waiver request immediately upon the President’s signing the bill into law.
“We’ve been fighting for this change for the last two years and as soon as we receive the green light from President Trump and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to implement this change, flood-impacted homeowners across our state will finally be relieved of the SBA DOB burden and will be able to access the recovery dollars that should have been available to them from the very beginning. I am eager to share this news and provide this assistance to so many Louisianans still working to fully recover,” said Gov. Edwards.
To view the letter, please click here.
Once the waiver request is approved by President Trump and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) provides necessary guidance to Louisiana regarding how they will require the Restore Louisiana program to implement this change, the program will update awards for all applicants impacted by the legislation, regardless of where they are in the program. The Office of Community Development (OCD) has already been in discussions with HUD to discuss this timeline and process.
Last week, Gov. John Bel Edwards instructed OCD to reopen the Restore Louisiana Homeowner Assistance Program survey until October 19, 2018, and extend the formal application deadline until November 16, 2018, in response to this legislation. Since them, more than 1,000 new surveys from homeowners have been submitted.
All flood-impacted homeowners who were approved for SBA loans and have not yet completed the initial program survey are strongly encouraged to do so, regardless of income or whether they have completed their repairs. The survey takes less than 15 minutes to complete and is accessible online at restore.la.gov or by calling 1-866-735-2001 from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday. Additionally, homeowners may visit one of the program’s four Housing Assistance Centers in Baton Rouge, Hammond, Lafayette and Monroe, all of which are open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.
Homeowners who meet the program’s eligibility requirements based on their survey responses will be invited to complete a formal application. No action is needed on behalf of homeowners who have already completed a program survey or application.
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 approved 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 approved 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.