Breaking ground on first home rebuild under Homeowner Assistance Program

Published 2:53 pm Wednesday, April 10, 2019

By Michael Cole

The Orange Leader


“I see the light, it’s bittersweet, but in the end, I have a new home.”

Those were the words of Karen “Heidi” Ballinger as she watched machines demolish the house she has called home for the past 30 years.

Ballinger is the first Orange County resident to have her house rebuilt under the Homeowner Assistance Program (HAP). More than 2500 applications have currently been submitted in the Jefferson, Hardin, and Orange County area.

According to the General Land Office, potential applicants should review the Homeowner Assistance Program Checklist to have all applicable documents ready prior to applying.

Interested homeowners should visit to apply online or download a printable version of the application.

Potential applicants can also find in-person assistance at regional Homeowner Assistance Program (HAP) offices serving their area.

In addition to the main office in each region, each county will have at least one application drop off location or satellite office. Additional satellite offices and application intake locations may be announced in the future.

A crowd of friends and officials were on hand as the crew of DSW Homes ( began the demolition.

Steve Mataro, a site manager with DSW explained the process, “We will finish demolition today, begin construction in the morning, and in about 20 days, we will have this lovely family back in her beautiful new home.”

Mataro went on to state that the new home would be built for resistance to the next storm, being built above the base flood elevation.

Brittany Eck of the General Land Office said of the Home Owner Assistance Program, “it is where we take homes that were either damaged or destroyed in Harvey and either repair or completely reconstruct them.”

On hand was Vidor Mayor Kimberly Steibig called it a Victory for Vidor, “a great first step in getting the city back where it needed to be.”

She pointed out that HAP was still processing applications.

“We had a meeting Saturday that had 30 people show up and 22 of them were new applicants,” Steibig said.

Also on hand was Robert Viator, the former Mayor during the Harvey disaster, and currently Precinct 4 Commissioner.

Viator stated, “Recovery from an event such as Harvey, which has been very devastating on our community, is a long process.”

“We are happy to see Ms. Karen work through it and we are here to celebrate the beginning of her recovery,” Viator added.