Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Louisiana Recovery Authority Press Release

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:

December 31, 2008

MEDIA CONTACT:

Christina Stephens
Louisiana Recovery Authority
225.603.3896
christina.stephens@la.gov

Road Home Program Surpasses $500 million in Elevation Payouts in 2008

State Hazard Mitigation Grant Program holding one-on-one appointments with homeowners to begin second phase of elevation awards

BATON ROUGE, La. - The state of Louisiana has paid homeowners more than $543 million in federal funds through the Road Home program for home elevations after hurricanes Katrina and Rita, with the vast majority - almost $500 million -- coming since program re-launched this spring with a simplified award process.

So far, the Road Home has paid $543,608,113 in elevation funds to 18,914 homeowners through the program. Additionally, more than 4,400 applicants have been moved to closing.

"The half billion of elevation funds homeowners received this year will go a long way to ensuring safer rebuilding across Louisiana. The success of this elevation program hinges on our decision to simplify the award process and give homeowners flat award amounts," said Paul Rainwater, executive director of Louisiana Recovery Authority. "We have much to do in 2009, including working through thousands of sometimes complicated Road Home cases, paying out the remaining program elevation checks, pushing forward with elevations funded with hazard mitigation dollars and transitioning the Road Home program as the state's contract with ICF ends."

Louisiana put its elevation program on hold in April 2007 - after disbursing around $47.9 million to 2,000 homeowners - because of concerns over a potential shortfall in the Road Home budget. In late February 2008, the state announced it was reactivating the elevation program and notifying homeowners who qualified for elevation awards by letter.

To simplify and speed the process, rather than each homeowner having an individual elevation grant calculation, Louisiana altered the program so homeowners receive standard elevation amounts through the Road Home program. The Road Home Elevation Incentive provides up to $30,000 for site built homes and $20,000 for mobile homes to elevate to meet the current Advisory Base Flood Elevation or Base Flood Elevation levels. Total compensation through the Road Home, including the elevation award, is still capped at $150,000 per applicant.

In addition to the Road Home program, the state has started outreach to homeowners through the Hazard Mitigation Grant Program (HMGP), with the first checks currently being processed. In total, the new state HMGP staff has reached out to 1,784 applicants and is actively working 600 project files. In recent weeks, targeted outreach sessions have resulted in 445 homeowner appointments. Because of the level of documentation required by federal HMGP regulations, the state is conducting one-on-one outreach with applicants to gather documents and check elevation progress.

Louisiana's $750 million elevation program is the largest HMGP elevation program ever run. Coupled with the $1 billion in CDBG elevations the state is paying through the Road Home, Louisiana is undertaking the largest elevation effort in American history.

State HMGP awards are separate from the Road Home Program and funds may exceed the $150,000 cap from the Road Home. Therefore, eligible homeowners can receive up to an additional $30,000 from the HMGP program for elevation or pilot reconstruction activities.

If you have questions about the Road Home Elevation Incentive call 877-234-1513 (Road Home Elevation Technical Assistance Hot Line). Questions about the State HMGP program should be directed to 877-744-7235. TTY users call 711 relay or 1-800-846-5277.

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