Flood victims still dealing with duplication of benefits issues with SBA loans

BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - The Louisiana governor has sent a letter to Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Secretary Ben Carson requesting they provide clarification of the language related to the Federal Duplication of Benefits penalty in the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018.

"It is critically important that HUD correctly interprets Congress' intent in this law and allows your grantees to offer grants to these homeowners for their remaining unmet rebuilding needs, ignoring SBA loan amounts that they never drew down. As we continue to rebuild from the floods, this remains the single greatest complaint from homeowners. Therefore, I am respectfully requesting guidance from your agency regarding your interpretation of this new law and how you intend to implement it," Governor John Bel Edwards wrote in the letter.

The governor says flood victims who took out an SBA loan can't get all of the help they need from the Restore Louisiana grants. That's because the federal government says homeowners would be penalized for the full amount they were eligible, even if they did not borrow that full amount. Immediately after the flood, FEMA insisted survivors apply for an SBA loan without fully disclosing they could be penalized down the road, the governor says.

"The governor has been pressing hard. It is the single most troublesome topic that we hear from folks who are trying to recover is this duplication of benefits of SBA loans," said Pat Forbes with the Office of Community Development.

The Bipartisan Act of 2018, which President Donald Trump signed into law on February 9, includes language relate to SBA loans to homeowners as a duplication of other federal assistance.

Click here to read the full letter the governor sent to HUD.

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