Faced with the unprecedented recovery effort caused by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, the State of Louisiana’s Recovery Authority (LRA) and Office of Community Development (OCD) turned to STR to provide a software platform to support disbursement of rebuilding grants to its homeowners affected by the devastating storms. This groundbreaking Road Home compensation program, with some $10+ billion in Federal Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Community Development Block Grant funding, represents the largest single housing recovery program in U.S. history. Originally installed in 2006, eGrants provides the processing backbone for managing some 150,000 residential grant applications through the intake, eligibility review and verification, grant award calculation and approval, and closing processes.
STR was able to rapidly configure and customize its baseline grant application module to support a pilot program launched within the first month after project initiation. Despite subsequent policy and programmatic shifts and significant changes to homeowner application and third-party data verification needs, this pilot implementation was easily adapted to provide full grant administration lifecycle support. Providing online application submission and status review capabilities, eGrants was customized with a rules-based Homeowner Grant Calculator engine to provide compensation options for which applicants were eligible based on key variables, including home value, damage assessments and previously received insurance and Federal benefits. State internal audit, approval and quality control procedures were incorporated along with critical interfaces to support financial transparency, budget and third party closing/check disbursement.
STR continues today to provide operational support, specialized reporting and analysis to the State for the core Road Home program as well as delivering further system enhancements to support the Additional Compensation Grant (ACG). The ACG, with benefit eligibility based on applicant household income levels, is intended to assist with any gap between the Road Home estimated cost of damage and the amounts the homeowner receives from the original Road Home compensation grant and other assistance such as insurance or FEMA. In addition, STR is engaged directly with the Louisiana Land Trust to provide software capabilities to support the management of properties acquired by the State of Louisiana from original homeowners exercising a Road Home sale option.
After the state purchased several thousand properties as part of the Road Home program, the state created the Louisiana Land Trust (LLT), a publicly chartered non-profit corporation created under the Louisiana Road Home Corporation Act effective June 29, 2006, under Senate Bill No 445. LLT’s mission is “to finance, own, lease as lessee or lessor, sell, exchange, donate or otherwise hold or transfer a property interest in housing stock damaged by Hurricane Katrina or Hurricane Rita.” This act gives LLT broad powers to receive and dispose of the properties, to accept funds “from any sources, to borrow against these properties and to obtain payment for these obligations and to enter into any and all agreements, necessary to carry out its mission.”
To maximize the State’s software investments, LLT accesses critical residential data and related documents maintained in eGrants®, the grants system of record for the Louisiana Road Home Program. For some 10,000 residential properties acquired by the State, LLT reviews artifacts including title and survey documents, appraisals, environmental inspections, financial closing documents as part of its management responsibilities. With this requisite information, STR has developed custom capabilities for LLT to manage its property inventory portfolio; key features include contracting for grounds maintenance, structural repairs, demolition and security, invoicing, conducting site inspections and environmental reviews and monitoring required activities for closing and title transfer.
In addition, a workflow management engine has been implemented to move properties through the disposition process. This tool supports complex alternative work flows based on multiple disposition options for individual and bundled properties, including those identified for transfer to parishes, conversion to green space or sales transfer via public auction, direct to developers to construct low to moderate income housing, or to current Louisiana residents through the Lot Next Door Program.
In supporting end-to-end property disposition, STR has incorporated management dashboard and reporting features into the LLT software platform and is currently focused on providing LLT with visibility, from a program oversight perspective, into post-disposition activities undertaken by parishes and partners to ensure that the expected outcomes for the properties are ultimately achieved.
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