More than $30.1 billion in federal funds have been obligated for Louisiana residents in Individual and Public Assistance programs, National Flood Insurance claims and SBA housing money as the state continues to recover from the devastation caused by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita.How FEMA arrives at that number:
$5.2 billion – Individual and household assistanceThat’s a lot of money. I am not complaining. But that $30.1 billion number doesn’t accurately portray the federal government’s investment in the Louisiana from those four programs.
$4.2 billion – Public assistance
$6.7 billion – SBA loans
$14 billion – Flood insurance claims
The $14 billion in flood insurance claims is not exactly recovery assistance because the government is required to pay that whether there is a disaster or not, a topic I have covered before. It certainly helps, though. It would also help if the private insurance companies would pay up, too.
The $6.7 billion in SBA loans are assistance, but we have to pay those back – with interest (thankfully, low interest). And they might interfere with the assistance we don’t have to pay back:
Separately, the recovery authority unanimously asked the Small Business Administration on Monday to stop demanding that homeowners or small businesses pay off their SBA loans when they get other forms of federal storm relief.Just to keep things in perspective, the amount of money coming from those four programs listed in FEMA’s press release that the federal government is not *required to pay* or that is not money that recipients *have to pay back* is $9.4 billion.
Once again, I am not complaining about totals. I am not saying they should be higher or lower. I only want to keep in perspective how much federal money we are receiving in our recovery and what those numbers mean.
In the case of the LRA, Congress allocated $7.5 billion for the Road Home program. That money is now in the state’s hands. The federal government can brag about that allocation. The state, however, can’t:
Kopplin said the program has received and processed 80,000 applications, and 20,000 appointments have been held — resulting in more than 1,700 awards averaging $68,000.Only 22 checks. And those checks don’t always go straight to the homeowner.
But only 22 checks have been received by residents to date.
For homeowners who are rebuilding their houses, their LRA money is managed through “disbursement accounts” (word doc). The check only goes into the homeowner’s personal account if he or she has already spent his or her own money to make the repairs. If the homeowner is buying a new house, the homeowner receives the money at the time of closing – so it never really goes into the homeowner’s account but into the seller’s pocket.
My point: We are not swimming around in 100 dollar bills down here.