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Governor Edwards Urges Congress to Ease Restrictions on Benefits to Flood Victims

by Matthew Person on September 7, 2017

Governor Edwards Urges Congress to Ease Restrictions on Benefits to Flood Victims

Governor John Bel Edwards has asked Congress to ease a restriction on benefits that victims of floods would receive from the Federal Government to help with rebuilding their homes. In a letter, The Governor told congress that the restriction has caused problems for Louisiana as we have tried to recover from the widespread flooding in 2016.

In the aftermath of the flooding last year FEMA encouraged homeowners to apply for Small Business Administration Loans which were offered through the federal government. In total about 18,000 people qualified for these loans, but the size of the loans were later deduced from the amount they would have received through federally backed grant programs made with the purpose of rebuilding – this deduction was applied regardless of whether or not the homeowner actually used the loan.

For example: A homeowner effected by flooding might be eligible for a $45,000 loan. That amount was deducted from the grant funding they also received. The full amount would be deducted even if the person used some or none of it.

This is important because these Small Business Administration loans must be paid back unlike grant money. The loans were considered more attractive however because the money associated with them was generally available much sooner than grant funding. Governor Edwards wants the Federal government to consider these Small Business Administration loans separately from the Federally-backed grants so that the two are not considered parts of a single benefits package.

“In Texas, thousands of homeowners will soon face this same dilemma, but Congress has the power to right this injustice,” Edwards wrote to Congress. “This simple fix will allow affected homeowners in both Texas and Louisiana to access funds that are critically needed and will help move the rebuilding process forward.”

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