BATON ROUGE - The Restore Louisiana Homeowner Assistance Program survey opened to all homeowners affected by the March and August 2016 floods Monday.
This homeowner assistance program will help flooded homeowners with rebuilding assistance and some reimbursement.
The initial survey was made available for all flood-impacted homeowners on the restore.la.gov website Monday morning. The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) officially released the $1.6 billion in flood recovery funds appropriated in 2016 later Monday afternoon.
Homeowners can also choose to fill out the survey using a phone number that will be posted on restore.la.gov Monday morning.
After receiving several reports of individuals attempting to charge homeowners for assistance in filling out the survey, the governor's office has released a statement discouraging all homeowners from seeking outside help to fill out the survey.
"The Louisiana Office of Community Development strongly urges flood victims against accepting help from third parties who are charging a fee to help fill out the initial survey of interest for the homeowner recovery program from the March and August floods. There is no charge to fill out the survey and residents should not give out personal information to these third parties," the statement read.
The first step for all homeowners to apply for rebuilding assistance is completing the 15-minute survey either online or over the phone.
Based on their answers, homeowners will be placed in the application phase for which they qualify. The state will then advise homeowners to apply for the program as their phase becomes eligible for assistance.
According to the governor's office, Phase 1 homeowners can anticipate being invited in May to fill out the application that will determine eligibility. Survey answers do not determine final eligibility for the assistance program.
Given the limited funding available at this time, the state has placed applicants in phases that comply with federal guidelines on how this money can be spent. Those phases are:
All Phases: Must have major or severe home damage and no structural flood insurance at the time of the flood
Phase I-II: Low-to-moderate income, elderly (62 and over) or persons with disabilities
Phase III-IV: 10 most impacted or distressed parishes – Acadia, Ascension, East Baton Rouge, Lafayette, Livingston, Ouachita, St. Tammany, Tangipahoa, Vermilion and Washington
Phase V: The remaining 41 flood-impacted parishes
Phase VI: Reimbursement for homeowners who have completed the rebuilding process at the time they answer the survey or complete the application
The governor's office reminds homeowners that the funds provided by this program are strictly for the use of repairing flood damage. But, in some cases, homeowners may be reimbursed for repair work already completed.
The governor also urges that all flood-impacted homeowners complete the survey, even if they don’t believe they’ll qualify for the initial round of assistance.
Over the next few months, the state is also rolling out additional assistance programs to place more affordable rental property on the market and to assist small businesses in their recovery.