Our opinion: Flood assistance insult adds to injury
Two Louisiana homeowners have sued the federal government, claiming that they have been unfairly denied assistance in recovering from 2016′s devastating floods.
Their claims seem to have some merit.
At issue is the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s policy that prevents homeowners from receiving Small Business Administration disaster loans and disaster grants. Congress in October removed the prohibition against people receiving help from both programs, but HUD has not yet changed its guidelines.
Meanwhile, people like Jeffry and Amanda Meyer in Livingston Parish are being denied the help they need and deserve from a federal government that appears to be much too slow to adapt to the new laws.
“The word frustrating hardly conveys what our flood victims have had to endure, and this suit complements our ongoing efforts to get flood victims their money,” said U.S. Rep. Garret Graves, the Baton Rouge Republican who represents parts of Terrebonne and Lafourche parishes. “The bureaucrats at HUD are going to be held accountable for not doing their job.”
Also last week, Louisiana U.S. senators, John Kennedy and Bill Cassidy, met with HUD Secretary Ben Carson to try to relay their constituents’ concerns and spur the federal agency to action. And the senators said there were some positive signs that the help might be forthcoming.
“Louisiana families are still waiting to put their lives back together, and they’ve waited far too long. I made this clear to Secretary Carson and emphasized how deeply this mess has hurt Louisiana homeowners,” Cassidy said. “He committed to release the legal guidance necessary to implement the duplication of benefits fix we passed in Congress, and I reiterated that I will not lift my hold on his nominees until his department does its job.”
The disaster that took away the Meyers’ home and those of so many other Louisianans was more than two years ago. That is more than enough time for even the most cumbersome bureaucracy to move into action to help the people affected. In this case, all HUD has to do is follow the new law. That should not be a difficult process that involves the intervention of U.S. senators. Unfortunately, though, that is exactly the case.
Let’s hope Carson’s agency can deliver some of the much-needed federal action that Louisianans need.
Editorials represent the opinion of the newspaper, not of any individual.