Restore LA begins issuing checks to flood victims impacted by duplication of benefits problem

Restore LA begins issuing checks to flood victims impacted by duplication of benefits problem

BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - Restore Louisiana announced Friday, July 5 that the first round of checks for some flood victims affected by the duplication of benefits issue will be sent out Monday, July 8.

This comes after the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) issued guidance on how Small Business Administration (SBA) loans should be considered in duplication of benefits calculations for federal disaster relief money.

The first round of checks will be issued to about 230 homeowners who were approved for an SBA loan, but then declined or canceled the loan in its entirety and have already accepted their grant agreement with Restore LA. In addition to those checks, around 800 homeowners who declined or canceled their approved SBA loan and received a grant determination, but have not executed their grant agreement, will get a notice of their increased award amount, minus the entire amount of the SBA loan. Restore LA says it will work with homeowners to finalize those grant agreements.

“Since the guidance was published a few weeks ago, we have been working with HUD to ensure the quickest possible delivery of funds to those homeowners who have been waiting so long for this assistance,” said Pat Forbes, executive director of the Louisiana Office of Community Development (OCD). “While I am proud of our work to expedite delivery of these critical recovery dollars to the flood-impacted homeowners who should have never been further victimized by this federal penalty in the first place, we understand that this process can never move fast enough. We are continuing to do everything we can to work with HUD and speed up the release of funds for more homeowners.”

For those flood victims who drew down some on their SBA loan they were approved for, HUD’s guidance says the state must submit an Action Plan Amendment to HUD for approval before Restore LA can begin providing money for the repayment of SBA loans. OCD is writing the required amendment based on recent HUD guidance and plans to submit it within a week.

Once the amendment is approved, which could take up to three months, Restore says, the Restore program expects to be able to provide money for repayment of drawn down SBA loans for all households at or above 120% of the area media income (AMI).

For households over 120% AMI, HUD’s guidance says those households must demonstrate “hardship” to be eligible for reimbursement. HUD says Restore LA must ensure at least 55% of all grant funds go to the benefit of low to moderate income households. This may result in only partial SBA loan reimbursement for households above 120% AMI.

Restore LA says in the coming weeks, it plans to send a survey to homeowners to assist OCT in developing a “broad and inclusive” set of criteria for the hardship exception. The criteria must be approved by HUD as part of the Action Plan Amendment. Restore says HUD then has to approve homeowners’ financial hardship justification on a case-by-case basis.

Call Restore LA with any questions at 866-735-2001 Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Copyright 2019 WAFB. All rights reserved.