BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - Governor John Bel Edwards' Office of Community Development has announced adjustments are being made to help the Restore Louisiana program absorb the impact of Hurricanes Harvey and Irma.
The task force met in Abbeville Friday, September 22. At the meeting, executive director, Pat Forbes, said the hurricanes have depleted by nearly half the number of qualified damage inspectors who have been working in Louisiana since the floods in March and August of 2016.
This reduced number of inspectors, plus the strain on overall resources, will slow down the process of inspecting flood-damaged homes in the state, however, changes are being implemented to hopefully speed up the process.
"We're talking with HUD and reexamining our policies, procedures and processes, and working with contractors to make sure we take advantage of every opportunity to streamline our processes. Some of these tweaks might set us back a bit to implement something that might ultimately speed things up," said Forbes.
Adjustments to the program being considered include the way inspectors are paid and trained and alternative approaches to inspections, among other things. Forbes says adjustments will not affect the amount of assistance eligible homeowners could receive through the program. There have been several updates on the program from the Office of Community Development:
- More than 44,000 homeowners have completed and submitted the survey
- More than 36,500 qualify for one of the six program phases
- Over 28,000 environmental reviews have been completed, or 76 percent of all six phases
- Approximately 14,000 homeowners have been invited to complete the application, about 8,500 of whom have submitted
- More than 4,000 damage assessments have been performed
- Nearly 600 homeowners have received grant award notices totaling $18 million
To date, the small business assistance program has received 184 applications from business owners who were affected by the flood. Of those, 105 have completed their applications, and nine loans have been approved.
Some key changes are being made to the small business component of the program. Pending HUD approval, the range of borrowing amounts will be $10,000 to $150,000. October 31 is now the new deadline to apply for the program.
To complete the Restore Louisiana survey, click here, or call 1-866-735-2001, or visit a Restore Louisiana housing assistance center in Lafayette, Hammond, Monroe, or Baton Rouge.