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Checks going out for flood victims previously affected by duplication of benefits issue

4 months 1 week 2 days ago Monday, July 08 2019 Jul 8, 2019 July 08, 2019 6:50 PM July 08, 2019 in News
Source: WBRZ

BATON ROUGE - Some homeowners impacted by the duplication of benefits issue will soon be getting checks.

Officials with Restore Louisiana made the announcement Friday.

The first disbursement of grant funds will go to approximately 230 homeowners who were approved for an SBA loan, but declined or canceled the loan in its entirety and have already accepted and executed their grant agreement. The checks are being printed and will be mailed later this week.

Additionally, about 1,000 homeowners who declined or canceled their approved SBA loan in its entirety and received a grant determination but have not executed their grant agreement, will receive notice of their increased award, adjusted to remove the entire SBA loan amount from their DOB calculation. The program will work with these homeowners to finalize their updated grant agreements. 

"We have recalculated your grant and it is now X where as before it was zero,"
 said Executive Director of the Office of Community Development Pat Forbes. "We got the notice Friday, we're doing it today."

For homeowners who drew down at least some of the SBA loan amount they were approved for, HUD’s guidance stipulates that the state must submit a substantial Action Plan Amendment to HUD for approval before Restore Louisiana can begin providing funds for repayment. That means those folks have more waiting to do.

"We have to follow the rules to deliver the funds so that's what we're doing just as fast as we can," said Forbes.

Once the APA is approved, which is estimated to take up to three months, officials expect to be able to provide funds for repayment of the drawn down amounts of SBA loans for all households at or below 120 percent AMI.

Forbes says Restore will be publishing the action plan this week so people can start responding. At the same time, Restore is working with HUD to make sure it follows all the guidelines the first time.

"While there are obstacles created by the federal process, we're covering every one as quickly as we can because we know these folks have been without this assistance that by all right they should have had for two years now," said Forbes.

There are also a number of July 31st deadlines that are quickly approaching. Restore says there are about 1,300 people who have been issued an award amount but have not closed on their grant. Restore is urging people to either accept their grant by the end of the month or notify the organization of an obstacle that's preventing them from doing so. Those obstacles could be an issue with duplication of benefits or fulfilling a homeowner responsibility.

"We need people to come see us," said Forbes. "Either come in and close on that grant or come in and tell us what's stopping you from doing that so we can help you figure out how to get there."

There are different phases to the Restore Louisiana program that remain active. That includes the solution 4 buyout program, which just started this past spring. Forbes says rehab construction should be done by the end of the year and reconstruction should be completed by the middle of 2020.

Restore expects all of the federal money awarded will be spent one way or the other and there's a need for every penny allocated.

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