The federal funds are part of a $6.2 billion Community Development Block Grant that the department has allocated to Louisiana and will be used to assist the state in meeting infrastructure needs, provide interest-free small business bridge loans, and lay the groundwork for the state’s anticipated homeowner assistance program, according to the announcement.
“This plan will go a long way toward rebuilding infrastructure, supporting struggling mom and pop businesses and helping homeowners who may have lost everything,” Jackson said in a statement. “As we move along Louisiana’s road to recovery, HUD will work overtime to help rebuild healthy and vital communities that families can proudly call home.”
Louisiana Gov. Kathleen Babineaux Blanco said in a statement today, “Approval of these much-needed funds gives our people a renewed hope that our recovery is progressing and the road home is being paved.”
In January, Jackson allocated $6.2 billion in emergency grant funding to Louisiana to support the state’s long-term recovery efforts.
The partial action plan approved today includes money for:
- Local government emergency infrastructure ($95 million) – This program will assist parishes that have adopted the latest available base flood elevations from the Federal Emergency Management Agency and new statewide building standards. Offered on a first-come, first-serve basis, funding provided under this program will assist these parishes in matching FEMA assistance to fund their most pressing infrastructure repair/replacement projects.
- State building infrastructure program ($142.5 million) – Approximately 1,500 state buildings were damaged by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, leaving Louisiana with $1.5 billion in uninsured losses. While FEMA will cover 90 percent of these losses, the state still faces a shortfall at a time when its tax base has been severely reduced. Due to the labor shortage needed to make needed repairs, Louisiana developed a framework that places emphasis on its highest priority projects.
- Louisiana bridge loan program ($95 million) – Louisiana estimates that Hurricanes Katrina and Rita affected 81,000 small businesses in the state. Loans provided through this program will offer up to $100,000 in temporary working capital to businesses located in 37 affected parishes. By guaranteeing loan funds provided by participating banks, this bridge loan program will offer six month, interest-free financing to qualifying small business owners who choose to remain in their affected areas, according to the HUD announcement.
- Homeowner repair, rebuild and restore program ($17.1 million) – This program will fund a call center, develop plans for Road Home Assistance Centers, and train staff and counselors to implement the more comprehensive homeowner assistance program currently being developed by the state. HUD’s review of the Road Home Housing Program will occur once Louisiana submits its final plan to the department.
The full text of Louisiana’s approved action plan is available online at www.doa.louisiana.gov/cdbg/DRactionplans.htm.