WASHINGTON D.C. (BRPROUD) – Victims of the 2016 flood in south Louisiana could soon have another shot at getting a grant to rebuild their homes. The 2016 Flood Victim Duplication of Benefits Fix passed the U.S. House this week and gets rid of the HUD income threshold that disqualified people from getting grants.
Currently, some flood victims who make over $60,000 a year are disqualified from getting recovery aid grant money that was awarded in the months after the event. This bill would do away with that threshold. In 2018, there was a partial fix to help with the issue of grants being denied to people who had already been given SBA loans.
“It actually did solve the problem for about 80% of those people, 80% of those people stuck in this loan grant debacle,” Rep. Garret Graves said. “But there were about 20% that had made over an income threshold, it was just an arbitrary income threshold that the bureaucrats made up.”
The 2016 flood caused nearly $4 billion worth of damages to residential buildings. Six years later, there are still hundreds of millions of dollars that could be given to homeowners to help them rebuild. Only about $700 million of the $1.7-billion awarded for recovery assistance has been given to homeowners. Graves shared his frustration with some of that money being used for other aspects of recovery besides directly paying flood victims.
“I run into people all the time just when I am traveling around south Louisiana, people that are incredibly upside down on their mortgages because you may have a Small Business Administration loan and your original mortgage that are worth more than the value of your house,” Rep. Graves said.
He also emphasizes the work being done to manage flooding in the areas hardest hit in 2016.
“It’s really difficult for us to go tell people ‘take this check, take this money and go rebuild your home’ in the area that flooded six feet, eight feet or more. From the beginning we thought it was critical that we paired those recovery dollars with better flood protection investments,” Rep. Graves said.
The bill has been attached to a number of bills, including the defense authorization in hopes to ensure it gets done. Senator Bill Cassidy confirmed he would vote for it when it comes up in the Senate. There are two weeks before Congress will recess for most of August.