May 2, 2011
Public comment accepted on $62 million plan until Thursday
BATON ROUGE, La. - The State of Louisiana is accepting public comment on a $62 million plan to offer additional rebuilding dollars to some Road Home participants who have not yet completed their rebuilding after hurricanes Katrina and Rita in those parishes with the highest amount of citizens who have not yet been able to return.
Called the Blight Reduction Grant Adjustment, the program will be funded with Community Development Block Grant dollars allocated to Louisiana in the aftermath of hurricanes Katrina and Rita. After a federally required public comment period, the state will forward this plan to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development for final federal approval.
"We are committed to helping those homeowners who seek to rebuild, but who have not yet been able to return because their Road Home grant was not sufficient to complete their homes," said Commissioner of Administration Paul Rainwater. "This additional funding will target those homeowners and also work to eliminate blighted properties in the most hurricane-damaged communities. We will work to quickly identify these homeowners and process these awards."
Rainwater said, "The guidance in a recent federal court ruling in Louisiana's favor in the discrimination lawsuit filed against the Road Home program was an encouraging sign supporting what we have stated from the beginning, that the claims that the program discriminates are unfounded. The state's creation of this Blight Reduction Grant Adjustment acknowledges that we can offer additional assistance to some struggling homeowners."
The funding will be limited to residents of the four most damaged parishes: Orleans, St. Bernard, Plaquemines and Cameron. The state anticipates the $62 million will serve more than 2,100 homeowners. Existing Road Home applicants must meet all of the following criteria to qualify for the BRGA:
- Must be a Road Home applicant who selected Option 1 and intends on repairing or rebuilding their damaged home;
- The damaged home must have been in one of the four most impacted parishes (Orleans, St Bernard, Plaquemines or Cameron);
- The applicant's original Road Home grant is significantly constrained by the Road Home determined Pre-Storm Value (PSV);
- The PSV upon which the original grant is based was at or below the 55th percentile of the parish;
- As of May 1, 2011, the homeowner has been unable to complete repairs and return to their damaged property or has returned without repairing the property and it is uninhabitable under the applicable codes and ordinances of the local jurisdiction; and
- The homeowner agrees to participate in a construction advisory services program offered by the State to help guide the homeowners in the continued efforts to restore their lives.
Meeting all of the criteria does not guarantee a homeowner a BRGA award. The state will not calculate awards less than $2,000 and homeowners must demonstrate a commitment to return through their participation in construction advisory services and/or demonstrated progress toward compliance with the covenants placed on their property by the Road Home. The program's maximum grant award, including the BRGA, will stay at $150,000.
The Road Home program, the largest home rebuilding effort in American history, is funded using federal CDBG funds. To date, the program has paid almost $8.8 billion to 128,278 homeowners, with the majority of funds - 54 percent - disbursed to homeowners with low to moderate incomes.
The Action Plan Amendment, which outlines all eligibility criteria and grant calculations, can be accessed online here.
The formal public comment period for the plan began April 29, 2011 and runs until May 5, 2011 at 5 p.m. After accepting public comments, the state will submit the plan to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development for final federal approval.
Citizens, community leaders and elected officials can access the plans and submit comments online by visiting http://www.doa.louisiana.gov/cdbg/dractionplans.htm and opening "Action Plan Amendment 51." A copy of the plans can be requested by calling (225) 219-9600.
Members of the public can submit comments several ways:
- Using the online form at http://www.doa.louisiana.gov/cdbg/dractionplans.htm;
- Emailing them to firstname.lastname@example.org;
- Mailing them to Disaster Recovery Unit, P.O. Box 94095, 70804-9095, Attn: Paul Catrou; or
- Faxing them to the attention of Paul Catrou at (225) 219-9605.
The Disaster Recovery Unit within the Office of Community Development is dedicated to helping Louisiana's citizens recover from hurricanes Katrina, Rita, Gustav and Ike. As the state's central point for hurricane recovery, the OCD-DRU manages the most extensive rebuilding effort in American history, working closely with local, state and federal partners to ensure that Louisiana recovers safer and stronger than before.