F. Scott Fitzgerald once said "the test of a first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposed ideas in the mind at the same time." Conversly, I suggest, the sign of moron-level intelligence is the inability to keep track of two simple things.
Following Katrina’s devastation Congress allocated money to be given to home-owners who suffered flood damage. Not every one was eligible, but those who were eligible were sent to a ‘Road Home closing’ that was supposed to be like a regular real estate closing. The net outcome was the State of Louisiana would send the homeowner some money. This is, of course, a complete fairy tale.
I attended a Road Home closing for a friend who took a temporary teaching assignment in Europe. I had an ‘approved power of attorney.’ On the appointed day and hour I went to a downtown building and, after riding the elevator up to the 12th floor, I was greeted by the sign pictured above left. I was the only one scheduled for a closing that afternoon, but there were about seven people there too –hanging around watching the TV in the waiting room. I arrived on time, but was told to wait. No one else was closing so there was really no need for me to wait. Or maybe there was some reason, but I just couldn’t perceive it. In any case, the closing took place and was QC’d by another "supervising attorney" in an adjoining room filled with empty folding chairs.
I was told everything was in order and that my client/friend could expect to receive the money wired into his account in 7 business days. That was on September 20th, or 49 days ago.
In the interim I have called various phone numbers where usually no one answers and I am told to leave a message (which I dutifully do) and then my call is never returned. If I do manage to win the lottery and speak to a live person, I am told various things (never the same thing) about why the matter is in "pull back status." Eventually I managed to speak to someone who told me that it was ‘all a big mistake’ and my client ‘would receive the money soon.’ But, she said that, first, she would call me in (you guessed it) 7 business days. Last Thursday, my phone didn’t ring. It was the Road Home program, not calling me as usual.
Today I called someone that I had encountered along the way who was very helpful and candid about how screwed up the program is. I won’t say who the person is because I’m not at liberty to do that. But one thing I learned was that apparently a lot of closings were put into ‘pull back status’ because the ICF (the company that runs the Road Home Program) had lost track of which of the two closing companies had handled a batch of applications. So, they just put a blanket hold on a bunch of files.
Did they call the people who were affected and tell them that their files were being placed into ‘pull back status’? No, of course not. Did they provide cogent explanations about why the files were placed into ‘pull back status’ when they were asked? Well, no because –first– they didn’t answer their phones or return messages, and –second– because…obviously they lack basic skills. Like how to count, for example.
Kindergarten students are sometimes told to form two lines. They do this easily. Later on they learn to divide by numbers greater than two. The people who run the Road Home Program cannot even keep track of two closing companies. Expecting them to return phone calls or provide cogent explanations is utterly unrealistic. In short, the Road Home Program is a toxic waste dump of sloth, incompetence and disfunctionality. I feel sorry for anyone who lost their house in Katrina. But I feel especially horrible for those who believed that the Road Home Program would help them.
Depending on the government in Louisiana to help you is like Charlie Brown thinking that Lucy is going to let him kick the football. Don’t expect help from the government in Louisiana, especially if you’re drowning. They’ll make you fill out paperwork and lose it while you sink slowly into the blue depths of oblivion. Months after your body has decomposed at the bottom of the ocean someone from the government will come along and toss a life preserver to the spot where you used to be.
If you’re lucky, that is.
Epilogue: I finally managed to speak with someone today who said everything is straightened out now, and that my friend will get their money after all. How soon? In 7 business days.