Editorial: Road Home records in demand

Here’s two words that most people in Louisiana have likely forgotten: Road Home.

The program, funded by the federal

government and administered by the state of Louisiana, helped people

whose homes were obliterated

or suffered damage from Hurricanes Katrina and Rita recover.

Eight years after the back-to-back storms ravaged south Louisiana, the Louisiana Recovery Authority is sending out thousands

of letters demanding from homeowners that received Road Home documentation that they spent the grant money properly.

The LRA is looking primarily at two areas: those people who use the money to rebuild their houses and those people who used

the grants to sell their property to the state and rebuild elsewhere.

‘‘ ... We have a responsibility as the stewards of these funds to ensure that they are used for the intended purpose, or we

must recover them,’’ said Pat Forbes, executive director of the Louisiana Office of Community Development.

No argument here. It’s beyond belief that every homeowner that received a grant applied it for according to the stipulations.

But some of the people who have received letters say they have previously complied with Road Home requests to provide the

records.

New Orleans homeowner Christian Sanders said he has provided on three different occasions information requested by the state

and the Louisiana Recovery Authority.

Late last month, he received a ‘‘final notice’’ letter informing him that if he doesn’t provide the information by Nov. 25,

he’ll have to repay the funds that he received.

Forbes admitted to the Times-Picayune of New Orleans that some recipients who have properly complied with the records requests

may receive final notice letters because their files may be missing certain records.

Though keeping up with those records is a Herculean task, Forbes admission doesn’t speak well of the agencies that are in

charge of collecting and filing the information.

What’s the breakdown? No one seems to know.

But there appears to be enough sin to cover not only those homeowners that did not spend the grants property, but the agencies

that have not been good custodians of the records.

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This editorial was written by a member of the American Press Editorial Board. Its content reflects the collaborative opinion of the Board, whose members include Bobby Dower, Jim Beam, Crystal Stevenson and Donna Price.