180,000 Homeowners Apply to La.’s Road Home Program

August 3, 2007

The mailed forms aren’t all in yet. But nearly 9,000 homeowners filed last-day applications for the state’s Road Home hurricane repair and buyout program by phone, online and in person, bringing the total to more than 180,000, a spokeswoman said.

Even without the mailed forms – which had to be postmarked July 31 -the last-day total is far greater than any other single day, Gentry Brann said.

Once all homeowners who have applied attend an initial appointment, officials will have a better handle on the multibillion-dollar shortfall expected for the program, which could run out of money in December. The state is seeking more money from Congress.

About 140,000 homeowners are expected to be eligible for the federally funded, state-administered grants of up to $150,000 for uninsured losses from Hurricanes Katrina or Rita in 2005.

Homeowners had to have suffered major or severe damage from the storms. FEMA initially estimated that 123,000 Louisiana homeowners would be eligible for aid.

Brann said more than 39,100 homeowners had received Road Home aid by the close of business on July 30. More than 129,000 have had an initial appointment, she said, and benefits have been calculated for nearly 112,000.

The Road Home has $6.4 billion in federal recovery money but some officials have estimated it would cost another $5 billion to help every eligible applicant. About $2.8 billion has been distributed; more than $7.7 billion in benefits had been calculated as of July 23.

State officials plan to add another $1 billion by reshuffling federal recovery dollars and tapping into a state surplus. That plan still needs legislative and congressional approval.

Midnight July 31 also was the application deadline for the second round of the Road Home small rental property program. Owners of one- to four-unit buildings, including town homes and condominiums, could apply for up to $100,000.

Some 82,000 rental units in Louisiana suffered major or severe damage during Katrina and Rita. The small rental program only enough money to fix an estimated 18,000 units.

Under the first round of the program, $202 million in federal funds was conditionally awarded to about 2,700 applicants in 13 storm-affected parishes to help restore more than 5,100 rental units. Some $300 million is up for grabs in the second round. More than 10,000 applications have been filed.

Information from: The Advocate, www.theadvocate.com.

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