State to help Road Home recipients resolve compliance issues

Published: May. 13, 2015 at 10:21 PM CDT|Updated: May. 13, 2015 at 10:51 PM CDT
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NEW ORLEANS, LA (WVUE) - Some local residents said Wednesday they would never have imagined that they still would be dealing with Road Home issues almost 10 years after Katrina. But they are, and the state wants to help grant recipients with outstanding compliance issues resolve them.

The Louisiana Office of Community Development-Disaster Recovery Unit will spend $2 million for liaison services, and half of the money will benefit storm victims in the New Orleans area.

The Greater New Orleans Housing Alliance will assist Road Home grant recipients complete compliance requirements. Franklin Associates in Baton Rouge will help people in the southwest region of the state.

"I had 14 feet of water," said Donald Lymous who lives in the lower Ninth Ward in New Orleans.

Like everyone else in that part of the city he lost a lot because of Hurricane Katrina and the levee failures, and with a $135,000 Road Home grant,  he and his wife were able to eradicate the storm damage and return to their home.

But two years ago, Lymous said they began receiving letters from Road Home.

"They really don't know what they're doing," Lymous stated.

He said before they could return to New Orleans, they lived in FEMA trailers outside of Baton Rouge and then in a rental unit. He said in the letters, Road Home attorneys demanded they repay $10,500 in FEMA rental assistance.

"Then in 2013, I get a letter from an attorney saying we have to pay $10,500 back," he said.

Many others in the city said they are still experiencing similar problems, and it's causing frustration almost a decade after the storm.

"There's also people who never got the money they needed to renovate their houses," said New Orleans Councilman James Gray.

Gray joined Councilwoman Latoya Cantrelle in voicing concerns about the ongoing issues some storm victims are experiencing.

"They stopped calling me after Councilwoman Cantrelle, she got on there and started to deal with this," said Lymous.

"Many people felt as if the Road Home Program treated them as if they were trying to get something they didn't deserve, and that the workers saw their job as a gatekeeper to prevent money from being given out," Gray stated.

Gray said the $1 million that will be spent locally to help storm victims will not result in resolution of all of the issues, so he hopes more money will be forthcoming.

"We hope that it may even help stimulate additional money for people who never got the appropriate amount of money to begin with," he said.

"You still have to look at the blight around and then you got to deal with attorneys threatening you from Baton Rouge about sending money back to them," said Lymous.

The state said Wednesday that homeowners will be eligible for additional funds only if they are eligible for existing unmet needs. And that there are no new funds or programs associated with the liaison services funded by the $2 million allocation.

Also the liaison services do not address elevation issues, but only issues related to homeowners who are not compliant in terms of their rebuilding grants.

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