Graves Meets with HUD Sec. Carson on Restore Louisiana Program, Flood Recovery Path Forward
Washington, DC – Congressman Garret Graves (South Louisiana) initiated a meeting today with U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Secretary Ben Carson, reiterating the urgent need for solutions to fix ongoing deficiencies plaguing implementation of Restore Louisiana – the state-run program that has been slow to disburse the 1.7 billion federal disaster recovery dollars appropriated by Congress after the Great Flood of August 2016. The Governor of Louisiana was represented by Chief of Staff Mark Cooper and Office of Community Development Director Pat Forbes, who attended the meeting at the invitation of Rep. Graves.
Secretary Carson and HUD officials indicated a renewed commitment to get better recovery results in three primary ways:
- HUD agreed to work with Graves and the State of Louisiana to put together a strike team to identify and fix state, federal and contractor delays to Restore Program implementation, and like programs in 2017 hurricane-affected states.
- HUD acknowledged the possibility of relief for certain homeowners caught in the Duplication of Benefits trap and committed to work with Graves and the State to identify a path forward under the current HUD regulations.
- HUD acknowledged that the Graves’ Duplication of Benefits legislation that passed today in the US Senate Homeland Security Committee is necessary for a comprehensive Duplication of Benefits fix.
Graves and the Governor’s office pointed to the 1.2 billion flood mitigation dollars that were approved by Congress in February and urged HUD to quickly issue the federal guidance necessary for states to begin using these dollars for flood protection and other projects in affected states. HUD indicated that the state may be able to proceed with flood protection work using state funds that could then be reimbursed with the HUD dollars in coming months.
“The slow process of getting recovery money to flood victims is inexcusable. We secured the first federal appropriation 20 months ago, yet only a fraction of the dollars are in the hands of flood victims. I am not interested in casting blame, but we need to work together to fix this for Louisiana’s flood victims and for the 2017 hurricane victims. At the meeting today, we secured a commitment to work together to get this fixed. We appreciate Mark Cooper and Pat Forbes joining us today. It was a very productive meeting,” said Graves.