Louisiana Office of Community Development – Disaster Recovery Unit
In anticipation of an initial allocation of HUD CDBG-DR funding in response to the Great Floods of 2016, the Louisiana Office of Community Development – Disaster Recovery Unit (OCD-DRU) engaged GCR Inc. (GCR) to support its efforts in several areas critical to the development of the overall plan to initiate recovery activities and the design of the state’s specific recovery programs.
Specifically, GCR’s scope of services included the following:
- Policy and Program Development – Design recovery programs that are responsive to the needs of impacted communities and in compliance with all applicable local, state, and federal regulations.
- Develop Policies and Procedures – Develop administrative and programmatic policies and procedures at the direction of State personnel.
- Action Plan Development – Develop the State’s initial CDBG-DR Action Plan and subsequent Action Plan Amendments.
- Data Gathering and Analysis – Identify, collect, and analyze data sets to be used in the determination of disaster impacts, unmet needs, program design, and other areas.
Citizen Participation – Coordinate the logistical needs, develop presentations and informational materials, and capture public comments and questions for two rounds of public meetings held at locations across Louisiana.
GCR personnel worked in close coordination with OCD-DRU staff and leadership to develop an initial CDBG-DR Action Plan that outlined Louisiana’s plan to utilize an initial allocation of $438M as well as an Action Plan Amendment following a second allocation of more than $1.2B. Key tasks included supporting the development of the impact and unmet needs assessment, developing descriptions for the suite of proposed recovery programs, drafting language responsive to the specific regulatory requirements associated with the funding, and coordinating with multiple state and local government agencies to gather information on recovery efforts and remaining needs. The initial Action Plan was submitted to HUD 45 days following the publication of the Federal Register Notice, which, in HUD’s letter to the state approving the plan, was described as “historically fast.”
In addition to the Action Plan, GCR supported the development of the Program Manual for the state’s Restore Louisiana Homeowner Program, a $1.3B initiative that will provide critical funding to homeowners that suffered damage as a result of the severe storms and flooding in March and August of 2016. Working closely with key OCD-DRU personnel, GCR led the process to develop eligibility and prioritization criteria, codified key requirements to ensure compliance with applicable federal regulations, and drafted program policy memorandums to be sent to HUD. The manual will serve as the basis for the implementation of the
program, which is expected to commence in the Spring of 2017.
GCR personnel also supported OCD-DRU’s public engagement efforts related to the initial Action Plan and Action Plan Amendment. OCD-DRU conducted 11 public meetings across the state to inform citizens of the state’s plan to utilize the CDBG-DR funding and afford the public with opportunities to ask questions and offer feedback. GCR staff provided comprehensive logistical support, developed presentations and handouts, and captured and compiled comments and questions from meeting attendees.