18. Restore Louisiana Homeowner Assistance Program has heard from many homeowners who have been anxiously waiting for progress on the federal duplication of benefits fix.

  • 1-3-2019
  • 18

January 2, 2019

Dear Homeowner,

Over the last few weeks, the Restore Louisiana Homeowner Assistance Program has heard from many homeowners who have been anxiously waiting for progress on the federal duplication of benefits fix. The following information is intended as an update on previous actions and on the current status of this issue:

On Oct. 3, Congress passed legislation intended to fix the federal Duplication of Benefits (DOB) penalty that has kept homeowners from receiving full assistance from the Restore Louisiana Homeowner Assistance Program. Shortly after, on Oct. 5, President Donald J. Trump signed the bill into law and Gov. John Bel Edwards responded immediately by submitting a letter to Pres. Trump requesting a waiver of any requirements to consider Small Business Administration (SBA) loans as a DOB to funding appropriated by Congress to Louisiana through the Community Development Block Grant Program for disaster recovery. More recently, on Nov. 27, Gov. Edwards sent a letter to President Trump requesting action on the waiver

In response, on Dec. 21, FEMA sent a letter to Gov. Edwards indicating that the new federal law does not require the President to issue a waiver and prohibits the President from considering a loan to be a duplication of benefits, provided that all federal assistance is used toward loss suffered as a result of a major disaster. The letter also states that the U.S. Dept. of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), as the grant awarding agency, must provide policy guidance to indicate whether federal grant funds may be used to pay down/off an SBA loan. As such, the state must now wait for HUD's final guidance on the matter before we can proceed. Once HUD provides final guidance on the program's implementation requirements, the program will recalculate awards for active applicants who have an SBA loan to reflect this new guidance, whatever it may contain.

With the government shutdown underway, the timeline for any further action is unknown, and the upcoming change in leadership at the federal level in the House and Senate in early 2019 may cause additional delays. Although we are hopeful for a decision in the first quarter of 2019, the timeline may not be as soon as we had originally anticipated. HUD's guidance could potentially result in no change in assistance for homeowners who were approved for or received an SBA loan, or it may provide partial or full relief.

At this time, the state is standing by and has made the necessary preparations for whatever guidance and level of assistance may be issued by HUD. No action is required on behalf of homeowners at this time. We appreciate your patience as we await on further progress from our federal leadership.

Sincerely,

The Restore Louisiana Homeowner Assistance Program

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