Road Home compliance letters perturb local homeowners - FOX 8, WVUE, fox8live.com, weather, app, news, saints

Road Home compliance letters perturb local homeowners

Gentilly homeowner & RHANT members discusses frustrations over Road Home letter. Gentilly homeowner & RHANT members discusses frustrations over Road Home letter.

NEW ORLEANS - Weeks after the Road Home Program sent out letters to thousands of homeowners, the state said many still have not proved they are in compliance with program rules. But some people who got the letters said Thursday that the program needs to be investigated.

"It means everything to me. I've nurtured my family here, my kids were born here, they grew up here, I'm invested in the neighborhood and that's why I wanted to come back home," said Bernice Crump as she sat on the porch of her Gentilly home.

She said 40 years of memories were made at the two-story home on Press Drive. But a letter she recently received from the state questions whether she has lived up to her end of the deal as it relates to Road Home and Hazard Mitigation Program dollars.

"I think it's ridiculous, this is the third one I've received and I am in compliance and I have responded several times," Crump said.

While more repairs from Katrina must be done, she said the elevation of her home is 90 percent complete.

Crump has banded together with others who said they are in the same boat, having received similarly worded letters. They are now members of the Road Home Action Network Team, known as RHANT.

"We're saying that enough is enough, stop the madness. That money should not be returned until after the program's been investigated, and once that program is investigated, you will find that we owe you no money, you owe us money," said RHANT member Viola Washington at a Wednesday rally in the CBD.

But clearly, the state believes there is a compliance problem.

Pat Forbes, Executive Director of the Louisiana Office of Community Development, issued the following statement to FOX 8 News:

As of Sept. 5, 2013, 46,920 homeowners in Orleans Parish received $4.3 billion from the Road Home program. Of those who have reached the end of their three-year grant period, 17,193 have documented their compliance.

For the Hazard Mitigation Grant Program, 4,014 households received a total of $233.7 million.

The first priority of the Road Home is to assist homeowners who are willing and able to return to their homes. We must fight blight across the region, and we must ensure that these federal disaster recovery dollars are invested for their intended purpose.

These compliance deadline letters are an effort to reach out to grant recipients to help them become compliant or determine whether they qualify for additional assistance under newly approved policies. Those who received letters need to contact our office for help.

Homeowners may call 1-888-762-3252 ext 2 and speak with a Road Home staff member or make an appointment to meet with a Road Home staff member at our Lakeshore office, 2021 Lakeshore Drive. They can also visit www.road2la.org for more information," read the statement.

As for Crump, she said she will continue fighting because she knows she did the right thing with her recovery dollars received after Katrina.

"You see several homes are devastated and several of us are not completed, and I think they should focus more on helping the people that's trying to get home," she said.

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