Addressing Heirs’ Property in Louisiana: Lessons Learned, Post-DisasterThis article is part of a larger document. View the larger document here.
After disasters like hurricanes and floods cause property damage, low-income homeowners are often unable to access government rebuilding grants and insurance funds because they lack clear title to inherited family homes. Since 2007, Louisiana Appleseed has been working on title issues involving inherited property in Louisiana and has learned many lessons. First, legislative advocacy and education of community members and policy makers are essential for removing roadblocks to rebuilding efforts. As decision makers craft legislation and policies, legislators need to understand the impact of unclear title so they can make necessary and vitally important decisions regarding post-disaster restoration, elevation and relocation of homes in the face of rising sea levels, coastal land loss, and flooding. Second, forming partnerships with government, legal services, other nonprofits, and community leaders is necessary in order to successfully identify systemic problems, formulate solutions, and effect change. Third, post-disaster problems revealed the need to help homeowners with title issues to be proactive to ensure that clear title passes to the proper heir or heirs. Only then can families truly protect their property, helping not only themselves but generations to come and the community a large.