FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
June 24, 2010
Contact: Christina Stephens, firstname.lastname@example.org
More than $10.3 Billion in Federal Recovery Funds Invested in Recovering a Safer and Stronger Louisiana in the Wake of Four Massive Hurricanes
In final meeting, board reflects on four and a half years of rebuilding work after Katrina, Rita, Gustav and Ike
BATON ROUGE, La. - The state of Louisiana has invested more than $10.3 billion in federal Community Development Block Grant funds to spur the recovery from hurricanes Katrina and Rita in 2005 and Gustav and Ike in 2008, the Louisiana Recovery Authority Board of Directors heard at its final meeting today in Baton Rouge.
As the agency nears its sunset date of June 30, 2010, the LRA provided a status of its portfolio of programs for housing recovery, infrastructure rebuilding, long-term planning and economic revitalization.
Since the beginning of the agency's work, it has relied on leadership from a Board of Directors, including legislators, which represented citizens across the state. The LRA was established by executive order in October 2005 after hurricanes Katrina and Rita hit Louisiana then formally established in statute in 2006. Under the agency's establishing legislation, it sunsets on June 30, 2010, the end of this fiscal year.
"In undertaking this incredible rebuilding challenge, there has been much hard work done, great progress made, many lessons learned and some things yet to be completed," said LRA Executive Director Robin Keegan. "None of our efforts would have come to fruition without the current and former members of the LRA Board of Directors, whose vision and direction have guided us through the arduous process of creating and implementing programs that have helped residents return home, boosted economic development and rebuilt critical infrastructure."
The LRA's board has created programs focused on housing, infrastructure and economic development needs, consulted on long-term recovery plans, including the Louisiana Speaks plan, and led efforts to bring recovery funding into Louisiana. For Katrina and Rita recovery, the state used $13.4 billion in Community Development Block Grant funds from HUD, set aside in three allocations from Congress in 2005, 2006 and 2007. For recovery from Gustav and Ike, the state used more than $1 billion in CDBG funds from HUD, set aside by Congress in 2008 and 2009.
The LRA reported quarterly on its work, as required by the Louisiana Legislature. The final report on the LRA's programs and contributions and its previous reports can be found online here: http://lra.louisiana.gov/quarterlyreports.
In the report, LRA Vice Chairman Walter Leger said, "Hurricanes Katrina and Rita were truly catastrophic events, with more than 200,000 homes destroyed. When we began looking at the redevelopment of housing, we knew there were greater issues of restoring neighborhoods and cultures as well as helping the individual homeowners. Because we broke new ground, mistakes were made, but I am proud of the ingenuity, the dedication and the hard work that have led thus far to more than 127,000 residents receiving assistance through the Road Home, as well as the thousands who have benefitted from our other housing programs such as Small Rental and Piggyback."
The largest of Louisiana's CDBG-funded programs, the Road Home program, has paid more than $8.53 billion directly to 127,548 homeowners, including more than $876 million in elevation funds. The state also has invested $521 million in creating rental housing in the areas affected by the 2005 storms.
Rental programs have created 6,237 rental housing units, including 4,226 that must offer affordable rents. The state's Small Rental program so far paid $158.4 million directly to landlords. The Piggyback program also funded 20 rental developments so far, spending $333 million to create new mixed income rental developments across coastal Louisiana.
Using $300 million in economic development funds, Louisiana created several programs to revitalize businesses and the workforce. The state gave grants and loans totaling to 4,000 small businesses. Workforce programs trained more than 6,000 workers and directly placed 2,786 in jobs. Tourism marketing dollars flowed to 11 impacted parishes to promote Louisiana tourism and culture. Economic development funds also supported 380 research projects and approximately 90 technology transfers, patents and licenses.
More than $1.4 billion in CDBG funds was set aside for Katrina and Rita infrastructure rebuilding projects, including $700 million in the Long Term Community Recovery program, which was designed to let local leaders make decisions about rebuilding projects that were not eligible for rebuilding funds from FEMA. The state set aside another $112.2 million for local government infrastructure projects and another $247.5 million in funds to help local school districts and $28.5 million for recovering lost fisheries infrastructure.
So far, more than $341.7 million in infrastructure funds have been invested in 233 projects across coastal Louisiana. These CDBG funds are in addition to the $5.49 billion in FEMA Public Assistance funds invested so far in rebuilding lost public infrastructure in areas affected by Katrina and Rita. The remaining CDBG infrastructure funds will be used to continue to support longer term rebuilding projects in the coastal parishes.
The LRA also led recovery from hurricanes Gustav and Ike, which struck Louisiana in 2008. The LRA board approved a plan that pushed most of the state's allocation, $565.5 million, of CDBG funds to local parish governments and also provided aid directly to the fishing and farming industries. So far, 98 percent of affected parishes have submitted proposals for using their funds and the state has approved 64 infrastructure and planning pre-applications, 16 infrastructure and planning applications and seven parish housing applications.
To ensure the hurricane recovery needs of the public and local governments are met, the staff of LRA has been merged with the Office of Community Development's Disaster Recovery Unit for several months. The Disaster Recovery Unit will continue to administer and provide federally required monitoring of Louisiana's $13.4 billion allocation of CDBG funds for recovery from hurricanes Katrina and Rita and of the state's $1.058 billion allocation of funds for recovery from hurricanes Gustav and Ike.
Funds from FEMA, including the Public Assistance program, are run out of the Governor's Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness.
The public will still be able to get information about hurricane recovery programs. Contacts for various programs are as follows:
- Office of Community Development's Disaster Recovery Unit - 225.219.9600
- Road Home - 1.888.762.3252
- Small Rental - 1.888.762.3252 and select the Rental program prompt
- Disaster Recovery Unit's HMGP Elevation Program - 877.824.8312
- Fisheries Assistance - 1.866.295.0081
Created in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina and Hurricane Rita in 2005, the Louisiana Recovery Authority (LRA) is the coordinating and planning body leading the most extensive rebuilding effort in American history. The central point for hurricane recovery in Louisiana, the LRA works closely with the Governor's Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness (GOHSEP) and partners with state and federal agencies to oversee more than $20 billion worth of programs, speed the pace of rebuilding, remove hurdles and red tape and ensure that Louisiana recovers safer and stronger than before.