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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
April 07, 2009
Contact: Christina Stephens, christina.stephens@la.gov

State of Louisiana Lifts HMGP Elevation Cap to $100,000

BATON ROUGE, La. - The state of Louisiana is increasing the maximum amount of money available through its Hazard Mitigation Grant Program-funded elevation program from $30,000 to $100,000 to homeowners who are raising their houses after hurricanes Katrina and Rita.

Louisiana has two elevation programs for those affected by Katrina and Rita who seek to raise their homes: the Road Home elevation incentive, which is funded with $1 billion in federal Community Development Block Grants; and the state elevation program, which uses $750 million in HMGP funds from FEMA to provide gap funding for those homeowners whose elevation costs exceed their available Road Home funding.

Last month, FEMA granted the state of Louisiana's request to grant homeowners three more years to complete repair and mitigation work, including home elevations, using Increased Cost of Compliance funds provided through the National Flood Insurance Program. Homeowners should contact their flood insurance companies, not the state, about eligibility for ICC funds.

"As we have moved forward with this elevation program, met with homeowners and reviewed their individual circumstances, we discovered that many homeowners had funding gaps that far outweighed the $30,000 elevation grant we could provide through the program," said Paul Rainwater, executive director of the Louisiana Recovery Authority. "This higher elevation grant amount and the extension of the time to use Increased Cost of Compliance funds may help homeowners who want to take the responsible action of elevating their homes, but could not afford to."

So far, the Road Home program has paid more than $772 million to 26,680 homeowners for elevations, with another 603 homeowners scheduled to close on $17 million in funds.

The state's HMGP elevation program, which has stricter regulations and documentation requirements than the Road Home, has processed more than $177,000 in payments to 14 homeowners. The state is actively working more than 2,000 files, or 61 percent of the 3,366 properties FEMA has funded for the program.

Letters recently went to 3,366 homeowners in the program about their eligibility and notifying them of the change. Another 25,000 letters will be sent out by the middle of May.

The state's HMGP elevation program is limited to Road Home participants who opted to rebuild or repair their homes - selecting "Option 1" in the program - and who live in Advisory Based Flood Elevation or Base Flood Elevation areas. Homeowners who live outside an ABFE or BFE will be allowed to participate, but they must meet a benefit cost analysis and be cleared individually by FEMA to be eligible. The state is notifying homeowners of their eligibility by letter. Affected homeowners with questions can call toll free 1-877-744-7235 or email hazardmitigation@la.gov.

The state elevation program is a reimbursement program, meaning the program can only pay for work after it is completed. The state is making "mid point" payments to homeowners for work in progress. All payments are based on homeowner documentation and property inspections.

Created in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina and Hurricane Rita in 2005, the Louisiana Recovery Authority (LRA) is the coordinating and planning body leading the most extensive rebuilding effort in American history. The central point for hurricane recovery in Louisiana, the LRA works closely with the Governor's Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness (GOHSEP) and partners with state and federal agencies to oversee more than $20 billion worth of programs, speed the pace of rebuilding, remove hurdles and red tape and ensure that Louisiana recovers safer and stronger than before.

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