On Monday, April 10 the Restore Louisiana Homeowner Assistance Program survey opened to all homeowners affected by the March and August 2016 floods. This marks the beginning of the homeowner assistance program through which the state will help flooded homeowners with rebuilding assistance and some reimbursement, once the federal government makes the funds Congress has appropriated to Louisiana available to the state to spend.

This initial survey became available for all flood-impacted homeowners to take on the restore.la.gov website at 7 a.m. Monday, April 10. This is the first step for all homeowners who want to apply for recovery assistance. Homeowners can also choose to fill out the survey using a phone number that will be posted on restore.la.gov. (Please note that this number 1-866-735-2001 will be activated beginning 7 a.m. Monday, April 10.)

The survey will be available for a period of time. It does not have to be completed on the opening date, and eligibility is not determined on a first-come-first-serve basis.

In all cases, the first step for homeowners to apply for rebuilding assistance is completing this brief survey either online or over the phone. The survey will take about 15 minutes and will not require documentation. Based on their answers, homeowners will be placed in the application phase for which they qualify. The state will then advise homeowners to apply for the program as their phase becomes eligible for assistance. Phase 1 homeowners can anticipate being invited in May to fill out the application that will determine eligibility. Survey answers do not determine final eligibility for the assistance program.

Given the limitation of funding so far from Congress, the state has placed applicants in phases that comply with federal guidelines on how this money can be spent. Those phases are:

All Phases: Must have major or severe home damage and no structural flood insurance at the time of the flood

Phase I-II: Low-to-moderate income, elderly (62 and over) or persons with disabilities

Phase III-IV: 10 most impacted or distressed parishes – Acadia, Ascension, East Baton Rouge, Lafayette, Livingston, Ouachita, St. Tammany, Tangipahoa, Vermilion and Washington

Phase V: The remaining 41 flood-impacted parishes

Phase VI: Reimbursement for homeowners who have completed the rebuilding process at the time they answer the survey or complete the application

The state asks all flood-impacted families to keep a few things in mind. First, federal rules require that assistance provided through this program must be used for repairing flood-damaged homes. In some cases, homeowners may be reimbursed for eligible rebuilding work already performed. In others, the assistance program will either pay homeowners and their home-building contractors for repair work, or homeowners may choose to have the program complete repairs on their behalf.

Second, all flood-impacted homeowners are strongly urged to complete the survey even if they don’t think they’ll qualify for the initial round of assistance. The survey serves as the initial step for all homeowner assistance. It also helps the state better understand the remaining unmet needs of flood-impacted families, providing valuable information for the ongoing recovery planning that will be required.

Over the next few months, the state is also rolling out additional assistance programs to place more affordable rental property on the market and to assist small businesses in their recovery.