Cantrell pledges help for those “harassed” by Road Home letters

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LaToya Cantrell

LaToya Cantrell

City Councilwoman LaToya Cantrell promised Thursday to assist any District B residents living in a home rebuilt after Hurricane Katrina who has received a letter from Road Home.

For details, see the full news release from Cantrell’s office below:

It feels like a stab in the back. The state’s Road Home program has been sending letters to homeowners, many of them seniors, stating that these owners “haven’t met their covenant.” The letters have been sent despite these homeowners currently living in their homes and having used the state funds for repairs.

“This is bureaucracy at its worst,” says New Orleans City Councilwoman LaToya Cantrell. “Talk about a broken covenant. We have done everything asked of us: repairing our homes, spending the money as intended and repopulating this city. And now the state wants the money back? That’s a broken promise.”

Hurricane Katrina victims have been through enough. In many cases, homeowners that have rebuilt and met their obligations are being harassed by Road Home, while adjacent properties whose owners received Road Home grants remain blighted after eight years.

Cantrell adds that for many of these homeowners the money in question covered only a small percentage of the total bill for fixing their homes. The federally-funded and state-managed Road Home program was started after Hurricane Katrina and the levee failures. The Congress devoted more than $13 billion for the program, and the state awarded monies to more than 117,000 recipients.

Unfortunately, The state has failed to keep any acceptable data on homeowners, who are not in compliance. As a result, the Road Home is responsible for much of the blight that plagues our neighborhoods.

“Instead of intimidating those who have worked so hard to come back, the Road Home should focus enforcement on the thousands of property owners who have made little or no attempt to repair and reoccupy their homes,” says Cantrell. “Anyone in my district that receives one of these letters should immediately contact my office. We will help you.”

Cantrell’s office can be reached at (504) 658-1020.

7 thoughts on “Cantrell pledges help for those “harassed” by Road Home letters

  1. Really? The state inquiring into the use of public funds in a program that has been seriously abused by recipients is “above and beyond”. The recipients can comply with the law and provide the information requested, they accepted the government money, they aren’t victims. Verifying the funds were used properly is not harassment it is good government.

    • “Verifying the funds were used properly is not harassment it is good government.” Really? Local government inquiring into the efficient use of prosecutorial discretion “is not harassment it is good government”.

    • It is people with mind sets like yours which would completely remove any discretion left in our judicial system and just allow everyone to be tried and punished by black letter law. Mandatory minimums for everyone, and a cold shoulder to circumstances. These people, We PEOPLE, were victims of the crap job of the army core of engineers and of the mismanagement of countless politicians beforehand. Yet no accountability expected there? But you lower and middle class folk, you best “comply with the law”. I cannot say what I want to say on here to you but you get the idea.

  2. So, folks are expecting the city to handle the problem with the Road Home grants? Let me get this straight. The City of New Orleans, who’s not been able to handle a cent of recovery money in any responsible fashion, will be the “impartial” processor of loan recovery/processing, when they have been unable to even handle the sale/auction of properties already coming from the Road Home buyouts. Yeah, that’ll work just fine. Someone, please ask Ms Cantrell about the current blight situation and why the city can’t even address that. Keep that money away from the city. It’ll never fix the issues with the Road Home grants. In the end, this is about the bad apples, not the folks complaining about getting letters. Their plight will be resolved. The crooks who ran are the real target here.

  3. You know, here’s the thing. We, as well as several of our neighbors and friends, have received these letters. And we, as well as all of the afore mentioned friends and neighbors, used the Road Home money to rebuild with the intention of moving back into our damaged houses. We all used the money to make the houses livable and then moved back in. In our own case, we rebuilt, lived in the house for over five years, then sold, having fulfilled all of the requirements of the Road Home covenant, and moved just down the street. A “neighbor” down the street who has done little more than gut his house and board up his windows, was shocked, last time we saw him, to hear that we’d gotten letters from the Road Home. He got money, yet the house remains vacant. When we originally applied for the Road Home money, we were told by the representative that there would be inspectors checking on compliance throughout the rebuilding process. That was what we were told, and as such, we made damned sure we were compliant. In fact, there was no such inspection. We followed the rules we were given; it was Road Home that didn’t follow through. And now, because some recipients didn’t follow through with their obligations we, who did follow through, are being threatened? Seems like we’re the easiest targets because we’re easy to track down because we did what we contracted to do. And can we prove our compliance? Sure, but why should we have to? A drive-by would prove compliance. Why should we have to endure the stress of a potential shake-down, excuse me, audit? So, jexni, all I can assume is that a)you didn’t live through Katrina, and you didn’t have to deal with rebuilding, or b)you did live here but you lived in the Sliver, and you didn’t have to deal with rebuilding, or c)you did live through Katrina, you did rebuild using Road Home money, but you haven’t received your shake-down letter yet. Thank you, Ms. Cantrell, for looking out for the many, many NOLA residents who took and used the Road Home money for the purpose it was made available: to help residents make their way back home. And shame on the state for failing in its obligations to keep accurate records, acknowledge the recipients who used the GRANT money appropriately, and failing to pursue those who took the money and ran, leaving vacant, blighted houses. That the Road Home screwed up, and that some recipients failed to use the money as it was meant to be used, is not the fault of those who used the GRANT money appropriately.

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