More duplication of benefits checks going out
2 weeks ago WBRZ 0
WASHINGTON, D.C. – HUD has approved Louisiana to begin issuing checks to homeowners who flooded in August 2016 and were caught in a duplication of benefits quagmire.
Homeowners were trapped in a law that forbids people from getting double government benefits – SBA loans and grants were funded by the government, leaving people unable to secure each if they were already offered or accepted the other.
By the summer of 2019, some 6,000 homeowners were stuck – suspended in the middle of confusing government rules and attempts by federal authorities to navigate around them.
Friday, officials said HUD had finally allowed the state to move forward with issuing checks to people who were once blocked.
However, people will still be in limbo based on where they fall within the area median income (AMI). Income levels at 80% of the AMI is considered low-income; above and up to 120% are considered moderate.
Congressman Garret Graves explained the release of checks and income levels this way Friday: “[HUD] has given the Louisiana Restore Program the authority to issue Duplication of Benefits checks to those individuals between 40% and 120% AMI with unconditional approval. For the hardship criteria, the state submitted nine hardship criteria and HUD has approved two of them but will continue to work with the state to approve or develop a hardship program.”
Graves said for people who earn more, he’ll continue to lobby for assistance.
“We are not stopping,” he said.
“With this guidance, we can now alleviate the burden of SBA loan debt for households at or below 120 percent AMI,” said Louisiana Office of Community Development Executive Director Pat Forbes. “We did what we said we were going to do and asked for a very broad range of criteria for financial hardships for those families above 120 percent AMI. HUD is indicating that they need more information on those criteria to move forward with approval, so we are working diligently to provide whatever is necessary so we can help this group of homeowners.”
Over 1,800 homeowners with a total household income at or below 120 percent AMI will have their grant awards updated to remove disbursed SBA loan amounts currently being calculated as a DOB for their Restore Louisiana grant award. The Program is required to issue reimbursement checks directly to SBA, which will apply the funds to the disbursed portion of the homeowners’ executed loan.
For homeowners with a total household income at or below 120 percent AMI who have already accepted and executed their grant agreement with the Program, checks will be issued in the next few weeks to SBA on their behalf. Homeowners with a total household income at or below 120 percent AMI who have not yet executed their grant agreement will receive notice of their increased award and the Program will work with them to finalize their updated grant agreements so reimbursement can likewise be issued to SBA on their behalf.
OCD is working with HUD to fully understand the next steps for modifying the hardship criteria and resubmitting the APA for final approval. Once OCD receives further clarification from HUD on the hardship exception criteria and process, Restore Louisiana will contact impacted homeowners with more detailed information about their Program status and next steps.
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