(WAFB) - As a proactive step to continue to assist homeowners participating in the Restore Louisiana Homeowners Assistance Program, Governor John Bel Edwards has authorized the hiring of more home inspectors.
Edwards has directed the Office of Community Development (OCD) to expand the inspection capacity of the current program management contractor, IEM. The governor has made this move in anticipation of a reduction in available inspectors in Louisiana because of Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria.
"While Louisiana continues to help our fellow Americans in Texas, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands, we are still undergoing our own robust recovery here at home. Three major storms having hit the country in the last month has left qualified inspectors and contractors in great demand. Already, a significant number of inspectors have left Louisiana for jobs in those affected areas, and that is having a direct impact on a key part of the Restore program. By allowing OCD to bring on more inspectors to work with IEM, we are working to ensure that Louisianans who are still rebuilding do not endure another setback as a result of these other disasters," said Edwards.
Inspectors are needed to establish the scope of repairs needed for a home, which determines the grant amount a homeowner can receive from the program.
"Since Harvey, Louisiana has lost more than 40 percent of our most qualified inspectors to Texas and Florida, which has caused the home inspection process to slow significantly. This new proposal will aggressively address that issue and ultimately enable the program to bring on more qualified home inspectors," said Pat Forbes, executive director for OCD.
In addition to hiring more inspectors, the program is also working with the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to continue to improve the program. They plan to:
- Work with federal regulators to develop a simpler approach to determine the amount of damage and scope of work
- Train new inspectors
- Streamline the grant awards process
Every homeowner who was impacted by the floods in March and August of 2016 should complete the Restore LA survey here. To date:
- $26.1 Million has been awarded to 1,097 households
- More than 44,000 surveys have been completed and submitted
- Every homeowner who submitted a survey and was qualified for Phases 1, 2 and 3 before July 1, 2017 has been invited to complete an application
- More than 27,500 environmental reviews have been completed
- The program recently expanded to include 10,000 additional homeowners who had flood insurance at the time of last year’s storms
- The program is now disbursing reimbursement awards to clients immediately upon signing their grant agreements to ensure that homeowners receive their final awards as soon as possible
While working on recovery efforts in Louisiana, the Governor's Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness (GOHSEP) just launched a statewide drive to get donations to the victims of Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico.