Homeowners still wrestling with Road Home over repayment demands

Frustration and emotions ran high Monday at a legislative meeting on the Road Home program.

The meeting, held inside New Orleans City Council chambers, drew a small crowd of homeowners still dealing with demands by Road Home to repay their grants.

"I'm just tired of coming over here. Somebody just do something to help us," said Shirley Payton, who fought back tears as she discussed her issues. "God is on my side. He's the only reason I'm making it. But I'm getting wore down."

Last year, the Road Home program sent letters to more than 55,000 homeowners, saying they were not compliant with the terms of their agreement. The letters demanded that the homeowners repay their grant money.

Now, as the nine-year anniversary of Katrina nears, many are still struggling with that demand.

"It's a large number. It's in the thousands," said Councilman James Gray.

Gray said a recent law to slow down the process, and a push to hire case workers for Road Home recipients are key steps in helping homeowners. However, he said many people are still fighting a tough battle.

"If we don't make some adjustments, it's going to be a real tragedy for a lot of people," Gray said.

"I've been turning information in now for nine years," said homeowner Gregory Hall.

While frustration continues for those still being asked to show documentation of their expenses, Road Home program leaders say they are still working with families to iron out problems.

"We have come a long way as a state in recovery, but we still have a long way, as everybody knows. If we didn't, we wouldn't still be here meeting today," said LA Office of Community Development Director Pat Forbes, while testifying before the Katrina Recovery Committee, Monday.

Affected homeowners are also encouraged to register online with more information on their cases.

Councilmember Gray says you can reach out to non-profit agencies for help with the road home compliance process by logging onto www.HelpNOLA.org.

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