PASSES U.S. HOUSE: 2016 Flood Victim Duplication of Benefits Fix
Published 8:54 am Tuesday, July 26, 2022
WASHINGTON, DC – Legislation just passed the U.S. House of Representatives that will provide recovery assistance to the remaining 2016 Flood victims deemed ineligible by federal bureaucrats. For years, the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) refused to provide financial assistance to disaster victims that were previously approved for a disaster recovery loan – calling it double recovery. Graves fought back on the concept that a loan and a grant could be considered duplicative. In 2018, he passed the Duplication of Benefits (DoB) fix releasing hundreds of millions of dollars for 2016 Flood victims through the Restore Louisiana program to rebuild their homes and lives. Federal bureaucrats at HUD invented a flawed interpretation of the law that prevented some flood victims with a household income in excess of $60,000/year from receiving recovery aid. Graves’ new provision would block arbitrary restrictions and release remaining funds to flood victims.
“We fought hard and within months of the 2016 Flood, we secured $1.7 billion in recovery assistance for flood victims. Here we are nearly six years later and the Restore program has only released less than $700 million to these homeowners. This is inexcusable. We have people with needs and money was appropriated to help. We promised the 2016 Flood victims that we’d never stop fighting for them. For DoB victims, the challenge was even greater. It’s a shame that our biggest obstacle to recovery was the federal agency responsible for recovery. After years of passing law after law, the flood victims finally win in the House. We just need all the bureaucrats to get out of the way and let progress happen,” Graves said.
Within months of the Flood of 2016, Graves secured $1.7 billion in Community Development Block Grant – Disaster Recovery (CDBG-DR) grant funding for flood victims to rebuild their homes. Under a flawed federal policy, these funds were reduced or eliminated if homeowners had also qualified for a federal disaster recovery loan, which must be paid back. Federal bureaucrats determined that a loan and a grant were the same, which in their minds constituted a “duplication of benefits”.
Graves pointed out the absurdity of equating a loan as the same thing as a grant. Graves passed legislation eliminating this flawed policy. The issue was fixed in Graves’ Disaster Reform and Recovery Act of 2018 and signed into law by President Trump.
The law resulted in millions in critical federal rebuilding funds for a majority of DoB homeowners – nearly 80 percent. Despite the win, undeterred bureaucrats at HUD invented new income thresholds that prevented recovery funding from getting to many disaster victims.
The House-passed National Defense Authorization Act includes a section that would prohibit HUD from using their made-up income threshold to determine eligibility for a CDBG-DR grant and make sure that the remaining DoB victims get relief.