Louisiana is still waiting for $ 595 million in federal disaster block support more than a year later since it was granted.
The aid was part of a recent measure passed by Congress in an effort to avoid a government shutdown in September, according to Associated Press.
While waiting for help, the state has had to resort to other means to begin repairing damage from Hurricane Laura and Hurricane Delta. Democratic Gov. John Bel Edwards and Republican Mayor of Lake Charles, Nic Hunter, have announced plans to spend $ 11.3 million on housing repair and reconstruction programs for the city of Lake Charles.
Funding comes from federal housing and emergency preparedness funds from several programs, AP reported.
The money will go to housing rehabilitation work for low- to middle-income homeowners. Each qualifying household can receive up to $ 50,000. Landlords can also get part of the money to rebuild homes if they rent to tenants with low to middle incomes.
The programs will be run by the city, although no details have yet been given on how to apply. There are still a few things that need to be addressed, Hunter said.
“The housing situation in Lake Charles is absolutely awful,” Hunter said. “This will help.”
Hurricane Laura, a Category 4 hurricane, hit the Lake Charles region August 27, 2020. The Category 2 hurricane Delta did not even hit two months later. Then the region was hit by floods in May.
Thousands of residents are still displaced, businesses have not yet opened and there is a wealth of housing in need of roof repairs.
“This is a beginning. This is a first step, a relatively modest step,” Edwards said. He later added: “This should be a signal of hope and not interpreted as, you know, ‘mission accomplished’, because that is certainly not the case.”
For more reporting from the Associated Press, see below.
Both Edwards and Hunter acknowledged that the money is nowhere near the amount needed to remedy the gaps in insurance coverage and the destruction of abandoned homes destroyed by Laura alone in Lake Charles, plus the needs of the Southwest region.
Edwards estimated that $ 1 billion is needed across southwest Louisiana to rebuild homes from Laura and Hurricane Delta alone. The full $ 595 million in state aid to the blockchain cannot all be spent on housing, due to federal demands that about $ 89 million be spent on efforts to mitigate future floods and storm damage, Edwards said.
Receipt of the major disaster relief is probably still months away. The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development is overseeing the block grant, which will require the state to outline plans to spend the money and receive federal approval of those plans. HUD has not yet issued its rules on the cost to the state of submitting plans.
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