Tuesday, June 26, 2007

If people truly understood the scope of what's happened to Louisiana, the rest of the nation should be terrified of future national disasters

Wherein doesn't sound good

From Chris DeBarr:
Since we managed to cobble up enough money to pay off our mortgage on our old home, that didn't leave with much money leftover. We needed to sell that property to give us a chance at sanity, to escape the vicious circle of claustrophobia and doom that living with 20 cats in a four room 900 sq ft apartment can do when your life and city you used to have has been eradicated by broken federal levees. We sold the house for the land value, plus about $7,000 for a grand total of $80,000.

Our house was big. We got it for a good price because the original owners had died and nobody in their family wanted it, and because the house next door was a complete disaster. Eventually, we had great, new neighbors who fixed up that house -- which is now worth over $400,000. Our house was pegged at $305,000 by the Road Home as its value on Aug. 28, 2005 before the hurricane hit and the levees collapsed. It would seem to me that it's painfully obvious that there was a discrepancy between the number we were able to sell our badly damaged home at and the value of my old home. To me, the numbers indicate that our home equity, our only significant investment, was stolen from us by the federal flooding of New Orleans.

However, because we were forced to sell our old property to secure enough money to buy our new home, a much smaller home that we really like -- in a much more dangerous New Orleans neighborhood, a neighborhood that, again, we really like despite its awful reputation, we are being told we will get zero from The Road Home. Oh, if we'd waited like good children for the real estate speculators to come up with their grand scheme, we could've stayed in our little apartment for 6-10 more nerve-wracking months, and we'd have been paid $150,000 to begin looking for a new home. So because we are committed to New Orleans, because we are committed to each other, because we were lucky to get some insurance money from the rapacious corporate insurance bandits, because of these and so many other incredible twists of fate, we should be penalized at least $70,000 and given no recompense for our old home from the federal government. If only I could live life as slow as a zombie bureaucrat, I could've lived this life in recovering New Orleans as pure FEMA data waiting soulessly for my chance to hear that now -- almost two years later -- I could imagine having a new home. Instead, we've made it back on our own road home; unfortunately for us, that's not acceptable to the zombies who govern over this national disaster.

PZB adds, a bit more angrily:
...I would add only our sorrow and disappointment that the people who bought our old house have turned out to be such hateful, lying sacks of shit. It would have been possible for us to sign over the Road Home grant to them and still get the money. We were willing to give them -- flat-out give them -- a third of the grant for doing so. As well as getting a house in an obviously up-and-coming neighborhood for the price of the land, they would have received $50,000 scot-free. Instead, they made us a counteroffer of $15,000 -- a tenth of what the program believed we had coming to us. Let me make sure that's quite clear to you: of our Road Home grant, the money that was supposed to make us financially whole, they wanted to take $135,000 and give us $15,000. They justified their miserliness by saying they didn't want to be tied to the requirements of the Road Home covenant, which would require them to live in the house for at least three years. This I could understand ... except that, when I sold them the house, all I heard was, "Oh, this is the neighborhood where I grew up, I can't wait to live here again, blah, blah, blah, jackoff, jackoff, jackoff." Now they claim these words never passed their lips and that they just want to restore and "flip" the house as soon as possible -- yet they've done no visible work except for hauling some of the flooded crap out of the basement. The house looks sad and derelict, and I've gone from being grateful that they wanted to fix it up and love it to hoping it falls on their spoiled, fat-cat, whitebread heads.

From the Times-Picayune, LRA shifts $577.5M to Road Home shortfall:
The Louisiana Recovery Authority on Monday voted to shift $577.5 million in federal block grants previously slated for infrastructure repairs to the beleaguered Road Home program, boosting to $1 billion the state's contribution to a shortfall now estimated at $4.4 billion.

In line with a plan unveiled Sunday by Gov. Kathleen Blanco, the LRA voted to redirect $300 million previously allocated for a new charity hospital in New Orleans and $277.5 million for state building repairs to plug the Road Home gap. Blanco and key legislators have agreed to tap state coffers to cover those costs.

The reallocations, along with $373 million from the state Legislature and $50 million that the LRA carved out of other recovery spending areas Monday, would bring the total state contribution to $1 billion. The Legislature must approve the changes.

LRA members on Monday chose not to earmark to the Road Home $513 million that was freed up this month when Congress and the White House agreed to waive the requirement that local governments pay 10 percent of the cost of all reconstruction projects.

They instead decided to place the money in a rainy-day fund that could be shifted to the Road Home program if Congress doesn't come though. The money also could be used as a revolving fund to cover a temporary Road Home shortfall if additional federal dollars arrive slowly and delay payments to homeowners, Kopplin said.

That decision came as a disappointment to parishes and other public and non-profit entities across the state, whose leaders had hoped the money would be divvied up immediately for local infrastructure repairs, as has been long promised by the LRA.

"Right now it's sort of in limbo land waiting for our negotiations," he said. "We still have a half-billion dollars in reserve. We can leave that on the side, hope to give it to the parishes, but have it in case we have cash-flow issues."

Louisiana's Road Home program, federally funded by $7.5 billion, was started to aid people like Mona Jones. More than 138,000 have registered. So far fewer than 21,000 have received any money. New Orleans officials say at that rate it will be years before many residents can afford to return.


Blogger Ahistoricality said...

I don't know if your tastes run to Harry Shearer's Le Show, but he consider NOLA a second home (his first is Santa Monica "Recognized around the world as the home of the homeless") and has regularly done extended interviews and presented some interesting sources on the FEMA-made disaster and ongoing discriminatory treatment.

It's been humbling, frankly. In case there was any doubt about the inability of the administration to care....

6/27/2007 10:19:00 PM  
Blogger bill said...

That's certainly one way of looking at it.

6/28/2007 07:32:00 AM  

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