After the catastrophic flooding in Louisiana that left thousands stranded and homeless, the state and its people are starting to rebuild. While the physical and emotional loss has been devastating from the beginning, the financial loss is just starting to become apparent. Over 110,000 homes have been damaged or destroyed, and many affected homeowners lacked proper flood insurance. This means thousands are in need of financial relief. If you find yourself in this situation, there are several financial resources that may be able to help you. Read on to see what your options are:
FEMA is offering financial help of up to $33,000 for primary housing assistance and personal property that isn’t covered by insurance. This can be used to pay for temporary housing and repair or replacement of semi-permanent or permanent housing construction, as well as replacement of personal property and other needs. Also included are household items, clothing and cleanup materials. Applications are being accepted online.
Low-Interest Disaster Loans
The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) is offering low-interest disaster loans for Louisiana homeowners, renters, businesses and private nonprofits.
Loans of up to $200,000 are available for homeowners to repair or replace damaged or destroyed property, and loans up to $40,000 are available to repair or replace personal items.
Businesses and private nonprofit organizations can borrow up to $2 million to repair or replace real estate, machinery, equipment, inventory, and other business assets. Applications are being accepted online now.
Disaster Unemployment Assistance
Residents and businesses can apply for disaster unemployment assistance for those unable to work due to the floods. Workers can qualify for unemployment if they are unable to work due to physical damage or destruction to the workplace, a reduction of hours or a personal physical injury that was caused directly by the natural disaster.
Employees and those who are self-employed are eligible and can receive unemployment benefits for up to $247 a week for 26 weeks as long as the unemployment continues to be the result of the natural disaster. Applications are online and require proof of employment when the disaster began.
Disaster Recovery Employment
If you’re able to work and have become unemployed due to the flood, you can apply for disaster recovery employment. The Louisiana Workforce Commission is actively hiring those unemployed due to the flood for relief related work.
Hardship can come to those unable to work due to the flooding, not just those with physical damage to their home. Having a way to continually work during this time can really help get you back on your feet or maintain your financial security. You can apply online.
Fannie Mae continues to offer mortgage assistance for homeowners with conventional loans affected by natural disasters. If a homeowner’s mortgage is owned or guaranteed by Fannie Mae and their home has been damaged, they may qualify for the following:
- Mortgage payment reduction or suspension for up to six months
- Waived late charges
- Suspension of foreclosure
This applies to anyone whose property has been damaged or has had their ability to make payments affected by the disaster. Fannie Mae is allowing servicers to grant an extension of this relief for up to 12 months.*
*Conditions apply: Fannie Mae allows servicers to suspend or reduce mortgage payments for up to 90 days if the homeowner is unable to be reached. If the homeowner is able to be contacted, servicers can offer relief for up to six months, which can be extended for another six months provided the homeowners were current on payments or 90 days or less delinquent when the natural disaster occurred.
Homeowners should contact their servicers to determine if their loan is owned or guaranteed by Fannie Mae and to discuss options.
Similarly, Freddie Mac offers relief for borrowers of conventional loans within major disaster areas. If a homeowner’s mortgage is owned or guaranteed by Freddie Mac, they may qualify for the following:
- Suspension of payment collection and foreclosure for up to 12 months
- Waived late fees
- Monitoring of insurance claim process
Freddie Mac will not report any delinquencies resulting from the disaster to the three credit bureaus. Thus, your score will not be affected if you have trouble paying your bills during this time.
Homeowners should contact their servicers to determine if their loan is owned or guaranteed by Freddie Mac and to discuss options.
The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) is offering assistance to affected homeowners with an FHA loan. Those eligible may be granted a 90-day delay on foreclosures and delayed loan payments. HUD is also offering loans and refinance loans that can be used for any home repairs or home replacement required due to the flooding.
The IRS is offering relief for taxpayers, including postponing several dates for individuals who live or have a business in certain parishes in Louisiana to file their tax returns and pay taxes. For example, deadlines falling on or after August 11, 2016, and before January 17, 2017, will be extended to January 17, 2017.
Additionally, taxpayers in declared disaster areas can claim disaster-related casualty losses on their taxes for 2016. They can also deduct personal property losses not covered by insurance.
Forms can be downloaded on the IRS website or ordered by phone at 800-829-3676.
Insurance Claims with Quicken Loans
When disaster strikes, call your insurance company immediately. Most insurance providers have 24/7 hotlines so you can make your claim as soon as you become aware of any damage.
After you make your claim, the insurance company will send an adjuster to survey the damage. Once the evaluation is complete, you will be given an adjuster’s report that shows a breakdown of the damages and cost estimates. A check will be issued jointly to you and your servicer once your claim has been approved. After you receive the check and the adjuster’s report, you can contact your servicer to get the process started for the repairs.
If you begin to fix any damage before the adjuster surveys the damage, keep invoices for anything you pay for out of pocket so your insurance company can reimburse you.
For Quicken Loans clients, check out what to expect from your lender and insurance claims.
For anyone affected by the Louisiana flooding, more information and resources are available at DisasterAssistance.gov. Are you aware of additional flood-related resources? Please share in the comments!
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