BATON ROUGE, La. – The Louisiana Family Recovery Corps has suspended its Community-Based Household Establishment Funds, or HEF, program after the funds allocated for the program were fully expended and the nonprofit served more than 4,000 families, 74 percent more than originally expected.After receiving an appropriation from the Louisiana Legislature in 2007, the Recovery Corps allocated $5 million to support the Community-Based HEF program. HEF offers one-time assistance valued up to $1,500 to hurricane-impacted households in Calcasieu, Cameron, Jefferson and Orleans parishes for necessities like rental and utility deposits, stoves, refrigerators and beds. Partnering with the Urban League of Greater New Orleans and Louisiana Health and Rehabilitation Center, the Recovery Corps expected to serve 2,300 households: 1,725 in the New Orleans area and 575 in the Lake Charles area. Upon suspension and closeout of the program, more than 4,000 households were to receive assistance.
“Today, we can say that more than 4,000 households affected by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita are getting a more permanent place to call home or a new stove to cook on or a new bed to sleep in. We knew demand for these resources would be extremely high given the gaps left by other methods of assistance,” said Raymond A. Jetson, chief executive officer of the Recovery Corps. “Because demand is high, our top priority in 2008 is to secure more resources to help recovering families.”
In creating the first-time program, the Recovery Corps and its partners anticipated great need and implemented the program on a first come, first served basis. Each household was required to call a 1-800 number to schedule an appointment to determine initial eligibility. At a minimum, households were required to be employed, live at 300 percent or below of the federal poverty level and have a pre-storm address in a parish affected by Hurricanes Katrina or Rita. The employment requirement was waived for elderly residents and individuals with disabilities.
Calling for additional investment in Louisiana’s human recovery, Jetson highlighted that, for many Louisiana citizens, their recovery is still ongoing or just beginning, especially for those living in FEMA trailer communities. He also highlighted the need for more science-based evidence of the current needs of survivors.
“We are at a crossroads in the human recovery of Louisiana. The need is still tremendous and funding inadequate. Nonprofit and faith-based organizations across South Louisiana recognize this fact as they have been on the frontlines of assisting families. The Recovery Corps will soon conduct a scientific survey needs assessment of survivors to give the policy makers the data they need to properly fund our people’s recovery. The assessment and its findings will be released this coming March. We will have one more tool to assist us in our fight for additional resources for families.”
Currently, the Recovery Corps is pursuing additional dollars to fund the HEF and other human recovery programs from federal and state government sources, as well as private foundation and corporate sources. The companion initiative to the Community-Based HEF program, the Trailer Transition HEF program, is still taking appointments for FEMA trailer group site residents who need assistance moving into more permanent, sustainable housing. Those FEMA group site residents interested in applying for the program should call 1-800-333-3104 to determine their initial eligibility.
About the Recovery Corps
The Recovery Corps, a non-profit 501(c)(3) corporation based in Baton Rouge, La., was formed in the wake of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. Through contractual arrangements with human service organizations and other non-profits, the Recovery Corps has assisted more than 30,000 hurricane-affected households with recovery planning, housing, children’s services and emotional well-being needs since January 2006. With its resources and network of partners, the Recovery Corps is positioned to coordinate human services delivery during the next inevitable disaster, natural or man-made. To learn more or donate, visit www.recoverycorps.org.