Road to Nowhere

Ideas and Issues Personal Writings Rebuild New Orleans

New Orleans A front came into town overnight accompanied by hard rain and thunder, so of course the electricity went down. The good news is that power was only down from 3:15 to 6:15 in the morning — we’re coming back!

But, we are not really coming back to New Orleans in the numbers needed, and that requires an update on the Governor Blanco Road Home program. Here are the basics on how it was designed to work. Utilizing the transfer of federal monies for housing relief, the Louisiana Recovery Authority (LRA) and the Governor created the “Road Home” program. The program was designed to deliver money to home owners trying to come home and rebuilt. The top amount was $150,000 per homeowner. Any money the homeowner had received from FEMA, SBA, or insurance would be deducted from the $150,000 cap and Road Home would send a check to the homeowner for that difference facilitating. If you lived in a huge, big house this might not be much money, but in most of the New Orleans neighborhoods, your house could easily be rebuilt for that amount of money.

Governor Kathleen Blanco staked the last breath of her political life on the program working. She contracted with an outside company for $650 million to run the program and distribute the money. She promised that the checks would move before the first anniversary of the storm last August 29th.

It didn’t work. By the end of the year less than 80 people had gotten checks. By mid-January the number had soared (?) to 177 people who had gotten some level of checks (many of these checks were contested as too small or wrongly assessed, but were at least checks). As of last weekend the Road Home program reported more than 550 checks had been distributed.

550 checks to allow people to come home from 100,000 applications for Road Home money! In the failure of homeowners to return to New Orleans the disaster of the Road Home program is the key reason people are trapped out of town. Our people simply don’t have the money yet to be able to rebuild.

Pathetic! The Road Home is the road to nowhere.

For a while we will post on this web site the “running” numbers of the few people who get checks from the 100,000+ who have applied, so that you can join us in the real countdown to recovery.