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State asks FEMA to keep housing assistance for flood victims

Posted: Friday, January 26, 2018 | Views: 1007

State asks FEMA to keep housing assistance for flood victims


GOHSEP Again Requests FEMA to Waive Rent for Flood Survivors Remaining in Temporary Housing Units

 

 

BATON ROUGE (January 26, 2018) – The Governor’s Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness (GOHSEP) continues to assist our families impacted by the 2016 flooding.  As part of those efforts, we are re-requesting that the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) waive rent collection for Temporary Housing Unit (THU) occupants and extend the period of assistance for the individuals in the Individuals and Households Program (IHP).

 

GOHSEP’s initial request for the waiver was November 1, 2017.  FEMA responded by granting an extension of the Direct Housing Assistance through May 15, 2018, but denied the request to waive the rent. This means, occupants of FEMA MHUs will have to start paying FEMA rent on March 1, 2018, and move out by the end of May 2018. 

 

There are currently 1,924 households in the IHP program, out of which 1,713 are homeowners and 211 are renters. This means that homeowners, many of whom are income-challenged, will be required to make both rent and mortgage payments at the same time, while continuing the process of rebuilding their homes, which would be a tremendous hardship.  Many of these homeowners are actively participating in the Restore Louisiana Homeowner Assistance Program, which is moving faster than any other housing recovery program in the country to help homeowners rebuild.  However, the Restore program could not launch until the funds were approved and available from HUD in April 2017, and as such, is ongoing and requires FEMA to better coordinate with other federal assistance in order to reduce disruption and strain on homeowners as they continue recovering from the devastating floods.

 

Therefore, GOHSEP has re-requested the rent waiver and proposed an approach to help the occupants find long-term solutions.  Additionally, GOHSEP has created a taskforce made up of members of GOHSEP, FEMA, Restore Louisiana, the Louisiana Housing Corporation, the Louisiana Dept. of Health and volunteer agencies to make resources available to assist those who will need it.  The taskforce will begin meeting next week. The task force will provide FEMA with progress reports and as long as occupants are making positive progress toward permanent housing we have asked that they be released from having to pay rent.  Non- responsive applicants will be referred to FEMA by the taskforce for rent collection.

 

Given this approach, we have asked that FEMA extend the MHU (IHP) program through December 31, 2018 and waive the penalties and rent collection through this time as well, as long as occupants are making progress on their permanent housing solution.  

 

“The recovery fight is far from over in Louisiana and we are continuing to look for ways to help our families,” said GOHSEP Director James Waskom.  “We believe this request removes an additional burden on those individuals and families still rebuilding their lives and homes, as well as provides support and resources to help them move towards permanent housing solutions.”

 

The taskforce will provide the Federal Coordinating (FCO) officer a monthly 30-60-90 day projection for the MHU population over the next eleven months. Additionally, after each taskforce meeting, the FCO will be sent the actual timelines on the population showing a decline in need for MHUs each month. 

 

 

Visit www.511la.org for road updates during an emergency.  Keep your phones charged and near you while the threat continues in order to receive potential emergency messaging.

 

Find more tips on weather and preparedness on GOHSEP’s Facebook and Twitter accounts. You can receive emergency alerts on most smartphones and tablets by downloading the new Alert FM App.  It is free for basic service.  The Get A Game Plan App is another resource available to help you and your family prepare for any type of emergency. You can download the Louisiana Emergency Preparedness Guide and find other information at www.getagameplan.org.