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The Road Home Program is run by morons

By November 8, 2007Louisiana Lawyers

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.

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  • Terri Hill says:

    I am looking for some advice on what i can do as for as trying to sue THE ROAD HOME. The inspector that came out to my home with a piece of looseleaf paper and a tape measure did not write down all of the damage that was done to my home in his report and we were denied any grant. I appealed and was denied and then appealed again and was denied by the state. How can you deny my grant when all you have to do is look at my insurance adjusters report..keep in mind that my insurance adjuster saw my home while it was still damaged…but all you have to do is look at his report and you can see that the inspector left out more than half of the damage even though i asked him several times if he had everything and went over the damage with him…

  • k says:

    Louisiana is just about the saddest place I have ever seen. Fundamentally an entitled welfare state.

  • MJ says:

    The problem with the program is that it’s difficult to find qualified employees in Louisiana. A college degree doesn’t mean a whole heck of a lot beyond a junior high school education. About 10 people carry the load for all the underqualified staff. You can blame Lousiana for this (as with just about everything else that’s happened post-Katrina/Rita).

  • Jmuskratt says:

    I was in the same situation, and as I’m sure you observed, all of our lawyerly powers were useless in the face of the RHP. I shudder to think about those less fortunate and less educated.

  • mominme says:

    Did anyone ever bother to tell you what “pull back status” means?

    In my attempt to get something out of them I’ve come to the conclusion that they have invented an whole new language which the randomly shuffle every couple of months just so no on ecan break the code.

  • Dave says:

    Id like to find a lawyer that would file suit on them. Ive waited for a year to go to closing. I was told on april 9th, 2007 that I would be in closing within 30 days. Its a year later. Ive been denied and told I didnt own a home there. I proved I did. Then they wanted a homeowners tax exemption slip from the parish courthouse for 2005 because all they had was a copy of the 2006. Then they wanted to know why when I bought the land in 1995 I had my address changed. I mean when does it stop? Im in closing now and have been since Janurary 2008. I have a PAL ( personal assistant liasance officer) now. She never returns my call or she calls and says she has me on the fast track. All this time Im living in a FEMA trailer thats infecting my lungs and FEMA wants it back to boot. Where do I live when they take it back? I own my land and am handicapped. I been looking for a wheelchair accessible tent. But all Ive found is a old freezer box with a tarp on it. Thanks for letting me vent.

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