[StBernard] Louisiana Lifts Deadlines for Most Road Home Applicants

Westley Annis Westley at da-parish.com
Wed Aug 27 20:31:43 EDT 2008

Louisiana Lifts Deadlines for Most Road Home Applicants

State extends time for homeowners to make their Benefit Option Selection

BATON ROUGE, La. (August 27, 2008) - The state of Louisiana is lifting deadlines for the 12,000 Road Home applicants who were facing a series of rolling cut off dates to move forward in the program and extending the timeframe for homeowners to make their final benefit option selections.

This change affects more than 7,000 Road Home applicants who previously had been facing deadlines to return documents, prove occupancy and ownership or resolve title and financial issues. The state is also rescinding deadlines for 5,400 applicants who sold their homes prior to the program's launch.

"After meeting with homeowners and community leaders, it became clear that many applicants affected by the deadlines were elderly and low income Louisianians who would be unable to comply with the program deadlines," said Paul Rainwater, Executive Director of the Louisiana Recovery Authority. "I judge this program not by the number we have served, but by the homeowners we haven't yet been able help."

Applicants who have not returned their Benefit Selection Forms now will have until November 1, 2008, to choose their Road Home option. More than 2,615 applicants are affected by this deadline.

"We will focus these next months on working with individual homeowners to resolve their outstanding issues and to help them get the rebuilding dollars they desperately need," Rainwater said.

By extending timeframes for applicants to resolve their long-standing issues, the state is providing additional time for applicants to receive legal advice and complete complicated title work.

Homeowners who are affected by normal program deadlines, including timeframes related to the appeals process, must still comply with program rules and timelines.

"We had hoped that by offering case-by-case extensions, we could help individual applicants in the program. Because of the extremely difficult issues facing our homeowners and because these extensions were not always provided on a consistent basis, we determined that the fairest action to take was to give everyone affected more time," Rainwater said.

Affected Homeowners

The following groups of homeowners do not currently face deadlines:

* 1,200 who have yet to provide documents proving they occupied their homes at the time of the storms;
* 2,700 who have yet to provide ownership documents;
* 900 whose files are missing other documents, such as social security cards;
* 2,800 with legal, title, financial and power of attorney issues;
* 5,400 who sold their homes prior to the program's launch and now want funding from the Road Home.

The only homeowners facing a deadline of November 1, 2008, are 2,615 homeowners who have not yet returned their benefit selection forms. All deadlines relating to the appeals process remain the same.

Outreach Events

The Road Home has served more than 4,100 applicants at its first nine events being held statewide to support homeowners facing deadlines, with many of the applicants able to move forward because of action taken there. There are two more public events scheduled, one in Plaquemines Parish and another in New Orleans.

* For a full list of Outreach Events, visit http://www.road2la.org/homeowner/events.htm <http://www.road2la.org/homeowner/events.htm>

Applicants with Questions

Homeowners with questions about their files or program deadlines have three options:

* Attend a Road Home outreach session and meet with Road Home counselors who will review the file and explain what action needs to be taken;
* Call the Road Home hotline at 1-888-762-3252 (TTY: 1-800-566-4224);
* Call the Road Home representative that has been handling their case.

Sold Homes

When the original Road Home action plan was written and approved in 2006 it included a provision to pay grants for applicants who sold their homes at a loss prior to the launch of the Road Home, but only if the program had funds remaining after paying compensation and elevation grants.

Applicants must have owned and occupied the damaged property and used it as their primary residents at the time of Hurricane Katrina (August 29, 2005) or Hurricane Rita (September 24, 2005).

Applicants must have applied to the Road Home program before the application deadline of July 31, 2007, and must have attended their first appointment by December 15, 2007.

Single units, double units, town homes, mobile homes and condominiums are eligible. The residence must be located in one of the 37 presidentially declared disaster parishes, must have been registered for FEMA assistance and must meet one or more of the FEMA criteria listed in the Road Home program policies.

Applicants must have sold their homes before August 29, 2006, during these dates:

* For Hurricane Katrina: The home must have been sold between August 30, 2005, and August 28, 2006, and the sale must have been recorded with the parish no later than September 29, 2006.
* For Hurricane Rita: The home must have been sold between September 25, 2005, and August 28, 2006, and the sale must have been recorded with the parish no later than September 29, 2006.


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