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Graves-Carter Fix for Disaster Victims Advances in House

An amendment by U.S. Congressmen Garret Graves (Louisiana) and Troy Carter (Louisiana) was adopted today by the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee that will finally get critical rebuilding funds to long-neglected 2016 Louisiana Flood victims. The amendment, offered as part of H.R. 7070, the Wildfire Response Improvement Act, extends Graves’ earlier Duplication of Benefits (DoB) relief provision in the Disaster Recovery Reform Act (DRRA) of 2018 for an additional five years. This amendment also states that the fix applies to all 2016 Flood victims, preventing federal agencies from blocking assistance to victims who became eligible for federal assistance after Graves’ DoB fix became law in 2018. 

“Whack-a-mole, moving the goal posts… call it what you want. HUD bureaucrats have worked hard to prevent Louisiana flood victims from getting the congressionally mandated disaster assistance needed to rebuild south Louisiana communities. Flood waters don’t discriminate, but federal bureaucrats sure do,” said Graves. “We promised the remaining 2016 Flood victims that we were not going to stop until they receive the relief that they deserve. This is just one of the many efforts in our multi-pronged strategy – we’re glad to see this advancing in the House, but we’re not going to give up until folks are made whole.” 

“Louisianians know better than anyone that storms are staying for longer, coming on stronger, and leaving more havoc than ever before. In their aftermath, many depend on federal government resources to rebuild their homes and businesses. No one should be penalized for taking advantage of a loan when they later learn about a grant to get them back on their feet. We should not add insult to injury for people who are trying to rebuild. The federal government should be there to make it easier and more accessible for people to reestablish themselves. Yet, some of these backwards policies have made it harder for those suffering to access resources. I want to thank my colleague Congressman Garret Graves for working in a bipartisan manner to resolve this issue which has hurt so many,” said Congressman Troy A. Carter, Sr. (LA-02).


In August 2016, 7 trillion gallons of stormwater inundated south Louisiana, taking 13 lives, in what was estimated at the time to be the fourth costliest natural disaster in U.S. history. Graves led the Louisiana delegation to secure $2.9 billion in Community Development Block Grant-Disaster Recovery (CDBG-DR) funds to help flood victims rebuild their homes and communities. The CDBG-DR funds are administered by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).

However, under flawed and often-changing HUD policies, recovery funds promised to victims were reduced or eliminated if a homeowner had qualified for a federal disaster loan from the Small Business Administration (SBA). Because the homeowner was already approved for a federal disaster loan, HUD stated it would be a “duplication of benefits” for them to also receive a federal recovery grant from the CDBG-DR program. While SBA loans are required to be repaid to the federal government, CDBG-DR grants were one-time payments to victims and do not require repayment.

In 2018, Graves passed legislation in DRRA to clarify that a loan and a grant are not the same and therefore cannot be duplicative. Without Graves 2018 legislation, HUD policy penalized diligent disaster victims who followed federal guidelines to take on crushing debt to rebuild homes since no option for grant assistance had been made available.  

Despite the Graves 2018 DoB fix, the agency said that a loan is still considered duplicative of a grant if a homeowner makes more than 120 percent of the area median income (AMI). As a result, many remaining DoB homeowners were prevented from accessing the grant dollars, even if they had simply applied for a loan and never received it. The AMI requirement did not apply to original flood victims, only those who had received eligibility through the DRRA DoB fix. Graves and Carter’s legislation clarifies that HUD cannot use an additional income test to determine eligibility for duplication of benefits relief.

In 2023, Graves and Representative Troy Carter introduced legislation, H.R. 6083 – the Duplications of Benefits Victims Relief Act, to extend the DoB relief provision in the Disaster Recovery Reform Act (DRRA) of 2018 for an additional five years and require that the fix applies to all 2016 Flood victims.

From the money Graves secured following the 2016 Flood – seven years ago – only $700 million has been provided directly to disaster victims.