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Roofing program experiencing delays, hope to have projects completed in 2022

BATON ROUGE - Rainy days are bringing even more stress to people who are having trouble getting damaged roofs repaired. Hundreds are part of a replacement program that's hitting snags.

The grant-funded Roof Reset Program is completing projects, but delays caused by COVID-19 and staffing issues have prevented it from moving at the pace managers would like.

Neil Bernard says his mom's house has been on the program's list since he first learned about it in July 2019. He pointed out problem spots and leaks in the house to 2 On Your Side Friday and said they don't have the money or the insurance to cover the cost to make repairs. After the 2016 flood, they spent money fixing up the house, and soon after their homeowner's insurance dropped them. To get homeowner's insurance again, the house needs a new roof. His hope is the Roof Reset Program.

"We saw this Roof Reset Program as, you know, a godsend to be able to fix that roof," Bernard said.

Unfortunately, he says it's been anything but that.

"It has been a disaster," he said. "Everything was good until our representative left."

For the last two years, Bernard says they've been waiting for the project to start and has had little communication with program managers.

"We just want to know what's going on," he said.

Across town, those program dollars were at work this week. President and CEO of Build Baton Rouge Chris Tyson says the Roof Reset Program is moving forward, although it might be a little slower than people would like.

"We know it's been a long time in some cases," Tyson said. "On top of just getting the program designed and approved, we were then hit with COVID, which brought a significant slowdown. We now are a little short-staffed."

Build Baton Rouge is the administrator for the city-parish's Office of Community Development, which manages several grant programs. One of them is the community development block grant program that allows projects like home repairs for qualifying residents. Tyson says the Roof Reset Program was created in 2019 to speed up the expenditure of a backlog of those funds and make sure those dollars impact communities in Baton Rouge. Roofing is an essential part of someone's home.

So far, 138 roofs have been replaced and 32 are in progress. Another 150 roofs are waiting to be inspected. The hope is to have over 300 roofs replaced by summer 2022.

"We understand the urgency, we're sympathetic to that," Tyson said.

The Roof Reset Program is not taking new applications right now. If you're waiting on information from Build Baton Rouge, Tyson encourages people to call 225-387-5606.

Bernard hopes to hear good news soon. His mom's house is still going through the process, but the Roof Reset Program is hoping to get the next step of approval expedited.

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