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January 27 2006

Operation HOPE Disburses Home Recovery Grants to Hurricane Katrina Victims

(Los Angeles) – Friday, January 27, 2006. Operation HOPE, Inc. (HOPE) today announced that qualified hurricane victims have begun receiving home recovery grant disbursements through Project Restore HOPE.  To date over $115,000 has been disbursed through a $500,000 grant established by E*TRADE FINANCIAL, with 166 applications having been submitted. Currently there are 91 applications already in the second stage qualification process representing an estimated $270,000 in grant money earmarked for pay-out, with more potential applicants being identified daily. The home recovery grants bridge the gap for disaster victims with regard to “unmet needs” including health and property insurance deductibles, emergency and temporary housing and home repairs.
 
The grants are helping people as they begin to rebuild their lives.  For example:
  • New Orleans resident Janika Carter is a mother of four who is using the funds received to pay the first month\'s rent and security deposit, setting up a new home for her family.  
  • Preston Hollings, a homeowner and home based business entrepreneur in Mobile, AL, suffered damage to his roof that made his house uninhabitable.  Mr. Hollings will use the home recovery grant to repair the roof, restoring his home and his business.  
  • Following the hurricane, Matthew Santolucito found a landlord who was willing to partially defer his move-in costs.  Months after the storm the landlord was threatening eviction if the remaining move-in costs were not paid.  The grant provided him with the money needed to avoid eviction and continue living at his current residence. 
“This money helped me a whole bunch,” confided Mr. Santolucito from his New Orleans apartment. “I am so thankful for this money. I can stop avoiding the landlord now. I’d like to serve as a volunteer and help someone the way that I’ve been helped. There are so many people in need.” 
 
These recipients received aid after contacting an Operation HOPE Call Center. A commitment from First American Corporation initiated the opening of the centers, originally set up to provide financial counseling and credit repair for interested first-time home buyers. After Hurricane Katrina struck HOPE Coalition America (HCA) the financial emergency preparedness division of OHI quickly initiated Project Restore HOPE (PRH) to provide free emergency financial counseling, record retrieval and offer assistance to storm victims from call centers. 
 
“Assisting disaster victims in their financial recovery is an increasing need,” said John Bryant, chairman and CEO, Operation HOPE.  “HOPE is reliant on the experience, knowledge and generosity of professionals within the financial services sector to make this program that much more effective. 

We urge more companies to follow E*TRADE FINANCIAL’s lead, and become involved to help make a difference.”
 
Applicants must be registered with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), a partner of HCA before they can apply for funding. FEMA has been referring storm victims to The PRH’s toll-free number since October 2005.  Although the funds are not meant to cover major expenses, or replace funding from FEMA, SBA or other entities, the home recovery grants through Project Restore HOPE provide recipients with an extra step along their road to recovery.
 
Hurricane victims can reach call center at 1-888-388-HOPE (4673).