In the wake of devastating storms with more on the way, Governor John Bel Edwards hopes to change the way disaster grants are awarded to impacted homeowners. Richard Carbo with the governor’s office says SBA loans are the only funding available immediately after a disaster, but they may not be the best option.
“The federal government will not allow homeowners who have applied for and been approved for an SBA loan immediately after a disaster to also receive grant funding through the Restore Louisiana program,” Carbo said.
Carbo says a provision called a “duplication of benefits” prohibits families who took out loans from receiving any federal funding. He says the problem is FEMA almost insists that homeowners apply for these loans without telling them what that will mean down the road.
“Folks are stuck paying back an SBA loan, many times that they can’t afford, and not being eligible to receive the grant funding, which they are not required to pay back,” Carbo said.
Carbo says the governor is pushing to end that provision and allow disaster victims to receive any assistance that’s available. He says the loan program isn’t fair to homeowners because they can be punished for taking out a loan, whether or not they use it.
“A homeowner could apply for it, decide after they no longer want to use that money and they would rather wait for the grant funding down the road, but it’s too late,” Carbo said, “They’re already going to be penalized in the grant program for the amount of the loan they were just approved for.”