BATON ROUGE, La — August marks the one-year anniversary of the 2016 devastating floods in the Baton Rouge community. It also marks one year since the creation of the LSU Law Successions and Title-Clearing Clinic and its efforts to help homeowners obtain a clear title to their homes and receive federal recovery funds.
According to Southeast Louisiana Legal Services (SLLS), which partnered with the LSU Law Clinic and other legal organizations to establish the “Flood Proof” project, 106 disaster impacted homeowners have been assisted to unlock $3,045,763 in flood recovery funding or other economic benefits in the past year. Another 154 families still have pending cases.
A recurring challenge that communities face in the wake of natural disasters is that many homeowners—particularly low income homeowners—do not possess clear title to their homes. Although they may own the homes from a legal standpoint, public records do not list them as owners, as oftentimes homes are passed down through generations without a formal succession/probate proceeding ever being opened.
LSU Law Successions and Title-Clearing Clinic works to help those homeowners get the legal proof they need to show they own their home. Such proof is often a requirement to receive federal recovery funds, insurance proceeds, loans, and other rebuilding resources.
“By working with individuals and families to help gain titles to their homes, our students are not only learning effective legal skills, but also upon graduation, they can continue this important work,” said Robert Lancaster, LSU Law professor and head of the LSU Clinics.
Since its inception last fall, “Flood Proof” has participated in 84 outreach events reaching 4,900 survivors. The project provides free legal services to eligible homeowners living in East Baton Rouge, Ascension, and Livingston parishes whose homes were flooded.
Support for the project is provided by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, the Baton Rouge Area Foundation, Equal Justice Works, and the Louisiana Bar Foundation. Project partners include SLLS, Louisiana Appleseed, Southern University Law Center, the Baton Rouge Bar Association, and the American Bar Association (ABA) Center for Innovation.
Disaster impacted families needing free legal help to prove ownership of their homes can call 1-844-244-7871, download the “Flood Proof” app for Android and Apple phones, or visit floodproofla.org to contact a representative and see a schedule of outreach events.