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Hundreds gather as leaders discuss duplication of benefits issues

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BATON ROUGE – It was standing room only at a town hall meeting Monday night. Congressman Garret Graves along with Restore Louisiana representatives hosted the gathering to answer questions about duplication of benefits issues following the 2016 flood.

There are still hundreds who haven't received grant money from Restore Louisiana. Pat Forbes, director of the Office of Community Development, said Restore Louisiana has all the money they need to pay 100 percent of SBA loans off. However, U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development requirements are preventing Restore from handing all that money out.

Many homeowners qualified for a SBA loan after the flood, and put them in the duplication of benefits position.

“I had to do the SBA loan,” said Stephanie Smith. “I'm paying the loan so it makes everything doubled and I'm a single mom so it makes a little more difficult.”

There is also an income threshold that both Restore Louisiana and Congressman Graves are looking to get rid of. That would require a change from HUD guidelines.

“This is going to take the federal agency either changing this inappropriate changing of the law, or it’s going to take a court case to force them to follow the law,” said Graves. “We're that the law solves the problems. The bureaucrats have created new ones.”

Restore Louisiana has given out more than 200 checks to those caught up in the duplication of benefits mess. Forbes said more should be going out by the end of August, and then again in October.

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