Gulf of Mexico
Historic Louisiana Flood, August 2016, USGS

Victims of 2016 Louisiana Flooding Sue Trump Administration Over Aid

Two Louisiana homeowners have sued President Donald Trump’s administration for policy change delays that have kept thousands of victims of a massive 2016 flood from receiving federal aid.

Jeffry and Amanda Meyer, who owned a Livingston Parish home destroyed in the August 2016 flood that devastated the Baton Rouge region, accuses the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development of foot-dragging in violation of federal law.

The Meyers took out a $280,500 disaster loan from the U.S. Small Business Administration. They are among thousands of homeowners who were later unable to access a federally financed disaster grant program because receipt of both a disaster loan and grant was deemed a duplication of federal benefits.

Congress changed the law in October so SBA loans wouldn’t count against the grants. But HUD, which oversees the disaster grant money, hasn’t issued legal guidance to match the law changes.

State officials have waited for moths, saying without HUD policy changes, the Restore Louisiana program is unable to give millions of dollars in grants to as many as 6,000 homeowners like the Meyers. That means many of the homeowners face decades of loan repayments when, otherwise, they could receive rebuilding grants to pay off that debt. Others simply may have received no aid at all.

“Plaintiffs, and other disaster victims similarly situated throughout Louisiana, continue to suffer real and considerable harm as they have wrongfully been denied the financial assistance which has been allocated to them,” the lawsuit says.

The lawsuit names Trump and HUD Secretary Ben Carson as defendants and asks a federal judge to declare that Louisiana can give out disaster aid grants to homeowners who took out SBA loans and to nullify previous HUD guidance forbidding such action.

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